The US Open, this season’s last major, is fast drawing to a close with four players left in the men’s draw, three, as expected, seeded to make the semi-finals and a fourth, unseeded, there to provide an element of uncertainty as this year’s surprise contender.
I’m very, very comfortable playing in this court, playing here in New York. I am showing my best level here. Last year was very tough, since the fourth round I played five sets [to get to the final]. Here I’ve played just one match that has gone to four sets Carlos Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz (1) and Daniil Medvedev (3) joined Novak Djokovic (2) and Ben Shelton on Wednesday following two comfortable wins to keep their campaigns on track and respectively quell the hopes of Alexander Zverev (12) and Andrey Rublev (8).
For Rublev, up first on the day’s schedule, it was his ninth loss at the quarter final stage of a Grand Slam, a hurdle he is seemingly finding impossible to clear.
He was dispatched by his good friend and Russian compatriot, Medvedev 6-4 6-3 6-4.
“I know he never gives up, but he knows I never give up,” Medvedev said after the two-hour, 48-minute victory. “In the third set, when he was up a break two or three times, I could not wait to go to the cold shower. Apparently when you go to the cold shower, when you come out, you either can’t move because your body locks, or you feel better, but I was like, ‘I don’t care, I will just see what happens’. Luckily, I did not need to do it, so I will go now.”
On perhaps the hottest day of the event, in the mid-afternoon heat, Rublev led by a break in all three sets but couldn’t manage to close it out. Medvedev, who had to take an inhaler in the second set to help his breathing in the sweltering conditions, kept getting enough balls and serves back to him as he waited for Rublev errors which proved a useful tactic under the circumstances.
Both players, though, struggled with the heat and not surprisingly, didn’t play to their full capabilities.
“The only good thing I see in these conditions is that both suffer,” Medvedev commented on court after reaching his fourth quarter final at Flushing Meadows. “It’s tough for both of us. There were some ups and downs, but that’s so normal.”
Rublev accepted defeat with good grace.
“I think my ranking is 8 or 7. I did basically the result of my ranking. I was in the best 8 players 3 times this year. I guess I’m proving my ranking for the moment. We’ll see in the last part of the season how it’s going to be,” the 25-year-old Muscovite said.
In the evening, Alcaraz kept his title defence in play cruising past a seemingly languid Zverev 6-3 6-2 6-4 in just two-hours and 30-minutes which wasn’t surprising, considering the German had been kept on court by his two previous opponents for a total close to eight-and-a-half hours!
However, he did manage to raise his game in the middle of the first with some break chances, but otherwise didn’t have much left in his tank following his four-hour-41-minute win over Italy’s Jannik Sinner (6) in the previous round.
“The last time I played against Zverev was in Madrid this year. He said he wasn’t ready to play at his best and I was sad about it. We’ve had some big fights and big matches,” Alcaraz said in his on-court interview. “I’m so happy to see him back in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam and playing his best again.”
Alcaraz has now won his last 12 matches at the US Open, and this year has dropped just one set and his chances of making the final are realistic as he holds a 2-0 lead over Medvedev and has yet to drop a set to the Russian this year.
“I’m feeling really comfortable playing on this court and in New York,” Alcaraz added. “I’m feeling great physically, mentally, my tennis game is strong. I’m ready to play a great battle against Medvedev in the semifinal.”
Both semifinals of the men’s event are scheduled for Friday when tennis fans hope that the top two seeds make it through to the championship round to re-enact that epic Cincinnati final of 18 days ago.
Asked about the prospect of another Djokovic showdown, Alcaraz replied: “It’s closer than at the beginning of the tournament. We’re just one match from that potential final. It could be great… but both of us have really tough semi-finals. So let’s see. Obviously, both of us are looking for that potential final.”
The 20-year-old Spaniard concluded ominously: “I’m very, very comfortable playing in this court, playing here in New York. I am showing my best level here. Last year was very tough, since the fourth round I played five sets [to get to the final]. Here I’ve played just one match that has gone to four sets. I feel great physically and I’m ready to play a great battle with Medvedev in the semi-finals.”