Having suffered three defeats in grand slam finals, Dominic Thiem clearly intends to make amends this year at Flushing Meadows as he crushed Alex De Minaur to reach the US Open semi-finals, sweeping past the young Australian to complete the next step towards his maiden grand slam title, 6-1 6-2 6-4.
One of us deserves this first title. We will give it all. Once we step on the court we will forget about the other three. Dominic Thiem
In the process he has set up a mouth-watering semi-final encounter with Daniil Medvedev, last year’s runner-up, the Russian chasing a similar goal but didn’t make the last four as comfortably against his compatriot Andrey Rublev, winning 7-6(6) 6-3 7-6(5) plus picking up a troublesome shoulder injury.
Both players arrived in the last four with performances that more than justify their claims to be suitable heirs to the likes of the defaulted Novak Djokovic and the absent Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer.
Thiem has dropped just one set in his run so far while Medvedev has yet to concede one though Rublev came close when he let slip a 5-1 lead in the opening set tie-break. It was a golden opportunity missed and one he was to regret for, having saved four set points, the momentum definitely swung in favour of the third seed – and when he was broken in the second set.
Having seen his long-time friend edge ahead 4-2, Rublev let out his frustration by hammering his racket on the court and swearing which immediately attracted a code violation for an audible obscenity.
The match was briefly interrupted by an electrical fault in the first set but it didn’t hamper Medvedev’s progress until the third set when his shoulder started cramping, restricting his movements.
He called for the trainer when down 4-5 and following treatment, resumed to fight off the increasing pressure from Rublev to force another tie-break and squeeze through to book his place back in the semis.
A very relieved Medvedev expressed his delight at the conclusion with a roar.
He admitted: “It was tough and that was why maybe for the first time in almost a year I celebrated my win.
“I felt like I could get in trouble, so I was really happy to get the win in the tie-breaker. One point decided two sets, so it was a tough match and Andrey was playing unbelievable.”
Medvedev supporters will now be concerned about his fitness and whether he will be able to recover in time for his date with Thiem, who produced a more than clinical performance to dispatch the young Australian making his debut at grand slam quarter-final level.
The second seed was brutal and gave De Minaur very few opportunities to get a toe-hold on the match.
Reminded that the absence of the ‘Big Three’ was providing a great chance for a player to emerge out of their shadow, Thiem said: “I guess it’s somewhere in the back of the heads of all four remaining players. There may not be Novak, Roger and Rafa but there is Daniil, Sascha (Zverev) and Pablo (Carrena Busta).
“They are three amazing players and every (one) complete another step towards his maiden grand slam title; one of us deserves this first title. We will give it all. Once we step on the court we will forget about the other three.”
De Minaur did manage to break Thiem early in the first set. He also failed to take advantage of some errors which came off the second seed’s racket in the second set.
Down a break in the third, the 21-year-old Aussie briefly rallied to lead 4-3, only for Thiem to take back control with his powerful forehand, a shot De Minaur found hard to combat, and romp to victory after just over two hours of play.
And he will need that and possibly more when he comes face-to-face with Medvedev who remembers last year’s epic five-set final between his opponent and eventual winner Rafa Nadal, one he describes as “one of the better Slam finals ever”.
“I would say that he comes very close to the big three players in terms that he can play his top level, for doesn’t matter how long,” said Thiem, who lost two French Open finals to Nadal and this year’s Australian Open title clash to Djokovic.
“That’s going to be really, really difficult. But I’m looking forward to that one. I think it’s going to be a big stage, even if it’s without fans. It’s going to be a great semi-final.”