It has been a long time since a player with only one previous U.S. Open semi-final to his name could bank on experience in the latter stages of the tournament, but the surreal circumstances of the 2020 edition means Daniil Medvedev can do just that.
FILE PHOTO: Sep 9, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York,USA; Daniil Medvedev of Russia hits a backhand against Andrey Rublev of Russia (not pictured) in a men's singles quarter-finals match on day nine of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY SportsWith Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal absent, and Novak Djokovic defaulted in the fourth round, the 24-year-old Russian is guaranteed to be only man in the last four at Flushing Meadows this year to have played in a U.S. Open final.
That came last year when Medvedev took Nadal to five sets in a thriller at Arthur Ashe Stadium and now only Dominic Thiem or Alex de Minaur stand between him and a return to the title-decider.
“Experience plays a big role,” he told reporters after beating childhood friend Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
“The fact that I was already one time in U.S. Open semi-final helps a lot. Same court, same conditions, no crowd. And I think it will help me a little bit.”
After reaching the semis without losing a set, the third-seeded Russian is now bookmakers’ favourite to claim his maiden Grand Slam title on Sunday.
“That helps a lot in the long term of the tournament,” he said of playing three-set matches.
“So I’m happy about it. That’s why physically I’m quite good.
“The more matches you play, the more it helps to get into it, to get back to feeling it. So I think I’m 100% ready.”
He brushed aside concerns over his shoulder after he needed medical attention on it late in the third set against Rublev, saying it was just tiredness and cramp.
Medvedev has been playing Rublev since they were in under-10 tournaments so the quarter-final was a good opportunity to assess how his game was working.
He was delighted with his serve after facing not a single break point over the 2 1/2 hour contest but even more impressed that he had hit more than twice the number of winners than Rublev (51-23).
“I was making a lot of winners which is amazing when we play with Rublev,” he added. “That I had more winners than him, it’s something unbelievable for me.”