US Open: Medvedev downs Rublev in three to reach fourth US Open semi-final

Daniil Medvedev beat his good friend Andrey Rublev 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 and will play the winner of the match between Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev in the last four

Daniil Medvedev at the 2023 US Open Daniil Medvedev at the 2023 US Open
US Open •Quarter-final • completed
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Daniil Medvedev has reached the semi-finals of the US Open, beating his good friend Andrey Rublev 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in truly energy-sapping conditions at Flushing Meadows.

It is a fourth semi-final in New York for the world No 3, having reached the final on two of the previous three occasions – finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal in 2019 before leaving as champion two years later.

For Rublev, this defeat now marks nine failed attempts to reach the last four of a Grand Slam out of nine quarter-finals he has made.

Rublev unable to capitalise on early leads in each set

The first set started promisingly enough for the eighth seed, breaking Medvedev’s serve in the second game and holding serve either side of it to move into a 3-0 lead.

But the former US Open champion’s iron-clad resolve was evident from the off, and he quickly broke back in the fifth game to restore parity.

Medvedev then turned the screw when pressure was at its highest for Rublev, breaking his compatriot in the eighth game of the set before serving out the opener.

But Rublev responded well, breaking the world No 3’s serve in the third game of the second stanza to edge into a 3-1 lead.

Once again, however, he could not capitalise on a lead and proceeded to lose the next five games in a row to relinquish the set 6-3.

In such draining conditions, with heavy humidity and brutal temperatures, the loss of the second was essentially a fatal hammer blow for Rublev.

But, to his great credit, the 25-year-old fought doggedly until the end, earning himself yet another early lead in the final set by breaking in the third game.

This time, Rublev held onto the advantage for a little longer as it looked as though the contest could be pushed into a fourth set.

For the third time in three sets, however, Medvedev’s indefatigable defence wore down his opponent as the former champion broke Rublev in the eighth game to restore parity.

After holding serve, the world No 3 then exerted incredible pressure on a visibly struggling Rublev.

The relentless manner in which Medvedev applied pressure in that final game exemplifies what is so devastating about the Russian, who simply would not allow Rublev out of the game at the risk of having to play a fourth.

Rublev deserves tremendous accolades for his fighting spirit in that game. With little to no chance of winning the match from there, and in such brutally energy-sapping conditions, the Russian fended off four match points as he clung onto the last remnants of a fine US Open campaign.

Ultimately, though, the result was only going one way at that stage. Despite a truly commendable effort, Rublev succumbed to his opponent’s unyielding pressure, with Medvedev clinching the win on his fifth match point.

Rublev must face home truths about his game

For Rublev, this result now proves beyond any reasonable doubt that there is a ceiling to what he can achieve at Grand Slam level with his current game.

He owns the unenviable statistic of nine losses from nine major quarter-final appearances. The fact that this year marks the first time he has reached the last eight at three of the four Grand Slams will be of little consolation.

Yet, perhaps it could provide the catalyst for some soul-searching and a re-tuning of the Russian’s all-out attacking game.

There is no doubt that, when in full flight, Rublev’s aggression and shot-making ability is something to behold. It can blow opponents off court in breathtaking fashion.

Andrey Rublev
Andrey Rublev is often frustrated when his all-out aggression falls short (Antoine Couvercelle/Panoramic)

But against top opposition across five sets, and on the biggest stages of all, the all-out baseline attack is simply not enough. Rublev must adapt his game and find a way to inject more variety and net play into a largely one-dimensional approach.

If he is able to do that successfully – and there appears to be no reason why he can’t – then Rublev will truly be a force to be reckoned with.

For now, he must lick his wounds after yet another chastening quarter-final exit and ensure that the lesson has finally been learnt.

A fourth US Open semi-final for Medvedev

Medvedev, meanwhile, marches on.

He has performed well in New York since he broke through to the top of the game, and this campaign has rectified the blip of 2022 when he crashed out in the fourth round to an inspired Nick Kyrgios.

“It was brutal,” Medvedev said in his on-court interview, alluding to the conditions.

“The only good thing I see in these conditions is that we both suffer. Honestly, at the end of the first set I couldn’t see the ball anymore. I kind of played with sensations.

“I know he never gives up. The things is he knows I never do too.

“Ten out of ten,” the world No 3 summed up when asked how he was feeling about his game.

Good signs for the former champion. But if he is to reach a third US Open final, Medvedev will need to get past either top seed Carlos Alcaraz or the resurgent Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals.

New York (Grand Slam), other last eight results (USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, hard, USD 44.700.000, most recent results first):

  • Carlos Alcaraz vs. Alexander Zverev
  • Ben Shelton beat Frances Tiafoe (10): 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2
  • Novak Djokovic (2) beat Taylor Fritz (9): 6-1, 6-4, 6-4

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