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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Daniil Medvedev into US Open semifinals without dropping set so far

It's been 60 years since a man won this Grand Slam tournament without ceding a set; Neale Fraser did so in 1960 at the event then known as the US Championships.

By: AP | New York | September 10, 2020 11:32:06 am
Daniil Medvedev celebrates after match point against Andrey Rublev in a men's singles quarter-finals at US Open. (Source: USA TODAY Sports)

Not only had 2019 runner-up Daniil Medvedev not dropped a set in this US Open entering his all-Russian quarterfinal against long-time pal Andrey Rublev, but Medvedev hadn’t allowed more than four games in any set.

So when Rublev grabbed a sizable lead in the opening-set tiebreaker Wednesday and three times was a single point from closing it, the moment felt momentous.

Turned out it was. The No. 3-seeded Medvedev fought off that trio of chances for No. 10 Rublev in the tiebreaker by reeling off five points in a row, and was on his way to a 7-6 (6), 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory to return to the semifinals at Flushing Meadows.

RECAP | Daniil Medvedev: A pantomime Russian antagonist in New York

The only concern for Medvedev in the latter stages was whether his body would hold up — he was dealing with cramps and needed his right shoulder massaged by a trainer in the third set — but he did, indeed, hold on. “It was tough at the end,” Medvedev said.

“I felt like I could get in trouble.” He took 51 of 57 points when his first serve went in, never faced a break point and wound up with a 51-23 edge in total winners. In all, through five matches, Medvedev has won 65 of his 68 service games, saving 6 of 9 break points.

It’s been 60 years since a man won this Grand Slam tournament without ceding a set; Neale Fraser did so in 1960 at the event then known as the US Championships. A year after losing to Rafael Nadal in a five-set US Open final that lasted nearly five hours, Medvedev heads to his second career major semifinal.

He will face No. 2 seed Dominic Thiem. The other semifinal on Friday will be No. 5 Alexander Zverev vs No 20 Pablo Carreno Busta, who won quarterfinals Tuesday. None of the remaining men has won a Grand Slam title.

Medvedev vs Rublev pivoted in that first-set tiebreaker, which Rublev led 5-1, then 6-3. But Rublev started losing points and then his cool, slamming his racket down during the change of ends at 6-all. Medvedev’s five-point, set-clinching run culminated with a 128 mph ace.

In the second set, Rublev leaned over and screamed and was given a warning for an audible obscenity, although he told chair umpire James Keothavong that he didn’t curse.

At the changeover, Rublev told Keothavong, “You understand, because of your mistake, now they give me a fine?”

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