US Open troll Medvedev tops Wawrinka at Open for 1st Slam SF
ABS-CBN Sports on Sep 04, 2019 07:24 AM
Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, returns a shot to Stan Wawrinka, of Switzerland, during the quarterfinals of the US Open tennis championships Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — The man the U.S. Open crowds love to hate, Daniil Medvedev, thought he might need to quit early in the first set of his quarterfinal after pulling a muscle in his upper left leg.
His opponent, three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka, never believed Medvedev would stop. Wawrinka was right. And now the No. 5-seeded Medvedev, the best player on the men's tour on hard courts in recent weeks, is headed to his first Grand Slam semifinal.
Medvedev has drawn plenty of attention at Flushing Meadows for the way he sarcastically thanked booing crowds, trolling them by suggesting their venom was reason he kept winning. Now maybe folks will pay more attention to the 23-year-old Russian's unusual brand of shape-shifting tennis, which carried him past Wawrinka 7-6 (6), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 on Tuesday despite 12 double-faults and a body that's just short of breaking down.
Asked how he'd describe his relationship with the fans in New York, who jeered him when he was introduced in Arthur Ashe Stadium but offered cheers later, Medvedev replied: "I have two words. First one, for sure, 'electric,' because it's electric. And second one, 'controversy.'"
"So many people like my interviews. So many people don't like me," he said with a smile. "I can just say: I try to be myself, guys."
Reprising his professional wrestling persona briefly, he added, "I have to say, 'Sorry, guys.' And, 'Thank you,'" and then laughed.
In the semifinals, Medvedev will face the winner of Tuesday night's match between Roger Federer and Grigor Dimitrov.
In the first women's quarterfinal, No. 5 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine beat No. 16 Johanna Konta of Britain 6-4, 6-4.
With her boyfriend, Gael Monfils, watching in the stands, a day before he plays his quarterfinal, Svitolina got to the semifinals at a second consecutive major tournament after never having been that far before.
"Now," Svitolina joked about Monfils, "he needs to step up his game."
She now meets Serena Williams or No. 18 Wang Qiang of China, whose quarterfinal was Tuesday night.
Medvedev began the match with strips of black tape along his right upper arm and both upper legs, remnants of issues developed over a couple of long matches earlier in the tournament, as well as being the busiest man in the business. He leads the tour in match wins in 2019, and also is coming off reaching the finals at three hard-court tuneup tournaments in a row.
Federer, for example, entered only one such event, and went 1-1.
Wawrinka said he wasn't too preoccupied by Medvedev's visits from a trainer in the first set, knowing the guy had been complaining after previous matches about health issues.
"He's still winning, still playing well, and still playing better and better the more the match goes on," said Wawrinka, the 2016 U.S. Open champion who was up two sets to none in the fourth round when defending champ Novak Djokovic retired from their match with a shoulder injury. "I saw him play the last few matches and been saying he has pain, and for sure he has pain. Some players like to show everybody they have pain. Some others hide it."
After rushing the net when openings presented in the first set, Medvedev shifted gears in the second, using a mix of drop shots and lobs to shorten points. It worked. Even after a dip in the third set, Medvedev reasserted himself in the fourth.
The last quarterfinals are Wednesday.
For the men, it'll be Rafael Nadal vs. No. 20 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, and No. 13 Monfils of France vs. No. 24 Matteo Berrettini of Italy. For the women, it's No. 13 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland vs. No. 23 Donna Vekic of Croatia, and No. 15 Bianca Andreescu of Canada vs. No. 25 Elise Mertens of Belgium.
To say Williams was the overwhelming favorite heading into this stage of the two-week tournament would be a massive understatement.
Her accomplishments and accolades far outweigh those of all of the other remaining players in the women's field.
Not only was Williams the only one of the eight female quarterfinalists to ever have won a Grand Slam singles title — she already has 23, a record for the professional era, and six at Flushing Meadows — but she also was the only who even has reached a major final before.
While Williams was aiming to reach her 38th career Slam semifinal by beating Wang, the other seven women still in the draw entering Tuesday had participated in a combined total of five major semis, going 0-5 in those matches.