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US Open 2023: In New York, Daniil Medvedev finds himself again | Tennis News

In a way, Daniil Medvedev is on his own island at the moment. He’s ranked No.3 in the world, over 3,500 points behind second-placed Novak Djokovic and nearly 1,500 points ahead of fourth-placed Holger Rune. At 27, the Russian has established himself as a cut above most of his peers, but still, he finds himself well behind the top two in men’s tennis.

Daniil Medvedev celebrates match point against Christopher O'Connell.(Getty Images)
Daniil Medvedev celebrates match point against Christopher O’Connell.(Getty Images)

Depending on how you look at it, it doesn’t seem too long ago when Medvedev felt like a strong contender at every hard-court Major he competed in. He beat Djokovic in straights sets in the 2021 US Open final to deny the Serb the Grand Slam, and spent several weeks at the top of the rankings last year. But a lot has changed in the past year and a half, with Carlos Alcaraz bursting onto the scene and blazing past him.

Medvedev has had to talk a lot about the Alcaraz-Djokovic rivalry, which is undoubtedly the hottest attraction in men’s tennis at the moment. In his press conference before the ongoing US Open, Medvedev acknowledged that “it’s great for tennis that we have these two guys playing against each other.” Even on court, after his first-round win, he said that the Spaniard and the Serb are “the biggest names right now.”

After his triumph in New York two years ago, which remains his only Grand Slam title, Medvedev reached the final of the 2022 Australian Open but things didn’t go as per plan from there and he went on to win just two titles in the season. “Maybe the last year was my worst in the last four-five years,” he said.

However, there have been some promising signs this season. He won in Rome, which was his first ATP Masters 1000 title on clay, and got to the semi-finals at Wimbledon, which was his best result so far at the All England Club. He’s won five titles already this year, with four of them coming on hard courts.

Heading into the US Open, he didn’t have the best run as he lost in the Canadian Open quarter-finals to Alex de Minaur and went down in the round of 16 at Cincinnati against Alexander Zverev.

But New York is different. It always has been for Medvedev. “I love the US Open, I feel excited to play here and to see how the crowd is going to be,” he said.

During his second-round win over Australia’s Christopher O’Connell, Medvedev was entirely in his elements as he tends to be in front of the New York crowd. He dominated the first two sets, then squandered multiple opportunities and dropped the third, bounced back to win the fourth and close out the match, and along the way, asked someone in the crowd to “shut up” and if they were “stupid”.

At the end of the third set, he called for the doctor and what followed was a hilarious exchange. He was asked if he had any symptoms and said, “Yes, I lost the set… give me whatever you gave him (O’Connell).”

Scintillating tennis, angry exchanges with the crowd, entertaining rants – it was all in a day’s work for Medvedev at the US Open, a tournament where he’s reached the fourth round or better each time in the last four years. It also helped him get to a milestone as he bagged his 250th hard-court win. He became the 15th active player to achieve the feat and the first to do it before turning 30.

Medvedev, as he has famously admitted, is a “hard-court specialist” and at one of his happiest hunting grounds, can be counted on to bring his best. The possibility of another Alcaraz-Djokovic showdown is indeed mouthwatering but as he has shown in the past, Medvedev has it in him to spring a surprise.

“Consciously, I don’t think about being the disruptor,” he said. “I just try to win. But subconsciously, I think I’ve played well in this role many times. So, hopefully that can help me in this tournament.”

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