Medvedev outlasts Sinner to set up semi-final vs Alcaraz | Tennis News - Hindustan Times
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Medvedev outlasts Sinner to set up semi-final vs Alcaraz

Jul 10, 2024 05:04 PM IST

The 28-year-old produced an inspired performance to win 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 in exactly four hours

Mumbai: It was undoubtedly the marquee last-eight encounter across the men’s and women’s singles draws at Wimbledon. Jannik Sinner, the newly-crowned world No.1, had a monumental challenge on his hands as he took on fifth seed Daniil Medvedev in what was a repeat of this year’s Australian Open final.

Russia's Daniil Medvedev celebrates after winning his quarter final match against Italy's Jannik Sinner. (REUTERS)
Russia's Daniil Medvedev celebrates after winning his quarter final match against Italy's Jannik Sinner. (REUTERS)

Besides the six-year age gap, there was little to choose between the two. Both players had one Grand Slam title to their names – on hard courts – and their best result at the All England Club had come last year when they made the semi-finals. In terms of their head-to-head record too, Medvedev only had a slight 6-5 advantage.

The point worth remembering, though, was that Sinner had emerged victorious in each of their last five matches. In January, the 22-year-old had fought back from two sets down to defeat Medvedev in the final at Melbourne Park, before earning a dominant straight-sets win over the Russian in the Miami semi-finals two months later.

However, all that momentum the Italian had gathered wasn’t enough as Medvedev produced an inspired performance under a closed Centre Court roof on Tuesday. The 28-year-old won 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 in exactly four hours to set up a semi-final showdown with defending champion Carlos Alcaraz, who also bounced back from a set down to beat American Tommy Paul. Alcaraz had beaten Medvedev in straight sets in the Wimbledon semi-finals last year.

The first set ended up delivering exactly the sort of tennis one would expect from a Sinner-Medvedev duel, with lung-busting rallies and neither player giving an inch from the baseline. There wasn’t a single break point through the set before Medvedev took a 3-1 lead in the tie-breaker after a brutal 33-shot exchange. He then had a set point at 6-5 but made consecutive unforced errors, and finally suffered a tame end to the opener by hitting a double fault.

Medvedev didn’t take long to put that disappointment behind him and broke early in the second set to take a 2-1 lead. And despite squandering consecutive break points to pull further ahead, he remained composed on serve and drew level in the match.

This way and that

Just like the second set, Medvedev broke to take a 2-1 lead in the third too as Sinner hit three forehand unforced errors in that game. Things then went bad to worse for Sinner as he called for a trainer and gestured with his finger that he was perhaps feeling dizzy. He had his blood pressure checked and buried his head in his hands before leaving for an off-court medical timeout that lasted for 11 minutes.

Upon resumption of play, Sinner moved gingerly on court and used an ice towel between games. He kept hitting drop shots in search of shorter points and it seemed his physical struggles would get the better of him. But somehow, he began feeling a lot better and broke back when Medvedev was serving for the set at 5-4. Out of nowhere, it felt like the tide had turned and Sinner would regain his lead in the match. Medvedev, however, showed grit to save two set points and end Sinner’s streak of winning nine consecutive tie-breakers.

The twists and turns of this fascinating battle weren’t done, though, as Sinner stormed through the fourth set. Medvedev, having been broken early, played a number of loose points and it seemed evident that he was saving his energy for the decider. Although Sinner was striking the ball cleanly like he usually does, it was anybody’s guess which way the match would head.

But once again, it was Medvedev who drew first blood and took a 3-1 lead. Sinner, perhaps still not at his best, pushed hard to break back and took the fifth game of the set to deuce five times. But Medvedev hung on before closing out a memorable win that he can take immense confidence from going forward.

“I knew if I want to beat Jannik, it needs to be a tough match. He’s not a guy that you can beat easily anymore,” said Medvedev on court after his win. “It was a great match with great points and I’m really happy with my game. It’s actually very tough because at one moment I could feel he’s wasn’t moving that well, so it’s always tricky because you want to play more points to make him suffer a little bit more, in a good way, but at the same time you know he will decide to go full power at some point, which he did and had set points. In a way, I would maybe prefer to not have this situation. But all’s well that ends well.”

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