In what could prove to be significant moment in the build up to this year’s US Open starting Monday week, Novak Djokovic suffered a surprising loss in the semi- finals of the Cincinnati Masters to the in-form Daniil Medvedev.
"It's a great feeling to win and beat the No 1. Daniil Medvedev
The young Russian beat the word No1 and defending champion 3-6 6-3 6-3 to secure a place in the final eight days after losing out to Rafa Nadal for the Rogers Cup title in Montreal.
the ninth seed will contest the title with David Goffin, seeded 16, who defeated Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 in the bottom half of the draw to reach his first Masters 1000 final.
Medvedev, who hadn’t dropped a set in his previous four matches lost his first as expected against the title favourite, who had also arrived in the last four with straight set victories.
But the tables then turned as Medvedev raised his own game to put pressure on the defending champion much to the frustration of his much higher ranked opponent He then took over control of the match and stormed to a very fulfilling victory.
Medvedev won 12 of the last 14 points in the second set to square the match and then ran up a 3-1 lead in the third on the way to his triumph converting his first match point.
“I don’t know how I turned it around, I was so tired after the first set and I thought I might not be able to keep up the intensity,” said Medvedev, who has competed in 15 hard-court matches since the start of the American swing.
“But I had a momentum chance in the second set and the crowd gave me energy,” added the Russian.
“Novak had been destroying me on second serve, so I just went for it,” Medvedev admitted. “It’s a great feeling to win and beat the No 1.”
As for Djokovic, he was not happy. Playing his first tournament since his Wimbledon triumph, he needed time to reflect on the result
“He [Medvedev] deserves to be in the mix, certainly, with all his results,” Djokovic eventually said. “He’s working his way to top five. He’s definitely one of the best players in the world at this moment.”
The Serb the went on to admit he could do little to quell the aggression of his opponent from the middle of the second set.
“When I had my racket on the ball I was returning his serves, but you can’t really predict someone, or prepare yourself for someone, serving that big second serves consistently from 4-3 to the end of the match making maybe two double faults out of God knows how many serves,” he said irritably.
Nonetheless he had taken ‘mostly positive’ feedback from the week and looked forward to Flushing Meadows starting on August 26 where he remains the favourite to retain the title.
“Today I did lose a tennis match, but I didn’t do too much wrong,” he said. “So I’ll take that and I’ll move forward to New York and have a good practice week.
“I’m going to go to fight for a title as everyone else does – and I like my chances.”
Earlier Goffin had progressed into his first Masters final after his straight set 75-minute win over Gasquet who was still recovering from a tight quarter-final match while Goffin relaxed thanks to a walkover!
Being the fresher of the two it wasn’t surprising to see the Belgian go through comfortably with 27 winners and just 14 unforced errors.
Gasquet just couldn’t raise his game but was happy at making the last four considering he was still working his way back into the game following groin surgery last January and a six-month recovery lay-off.
Sunday’s final will be producing a new name on the Masters 1000 roster list, and perhaps see a shift in the top of the game as the 23 year old Medvedev must surely be considered a threat by the Big Three.