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Rediff.com  » Sports » US Open: Alcaraz crushes Zverev; Medvedev outlasts Rublev

US Open: Alcaraz crushes Zverev; Medvedev outlasts Rublev

Last updated on: September 07, 2023 10:20 IST
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IMAGES from Day 10 of the US Open, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadows, New York.

Alcaraz stops Zverev to set up semi-final of US Open champions

Carlos Alcaraz

IMAGE: Carlos Alcaraz returns to Alexander Zverev of Germany. Photograph: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

World number one Carlos Alcaraz finished off a drained Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday to move into the U.S. Open semi-finals where he will take on Daniil Medvedev in an intriguing clash featuring the last two Flushing Meadows champions.

There were questions about how prepared Zverev would be to face the energetic Alcaraz after playing the longest match of the tournament - a near five-hour, five-set marathon in punishing conditions on Monday against Jannik Sinner.

A U.S. Open finalist in 2020, Zverev showed up ready to fight but the tank emptied quickly, the 12th seed unable to keep pace as Alcaraz stepped on the gas to pull away for a straightforward win.

Alcaraz had only four break point chances throughout the entire contest but made each one of them count.

"He (Zverev) was struggling a lot, he was working really hard to come back at his best and finally we all see him showing his best tennis," said Alcaraz.

"We enjoy his game so we are really happy to have him back."

On another hot, steamy day, with temperatures in the mid-90s Fahrenheit (32 Celsius), Medvedev reached the last four by beating eighth seed Andrey Rublev 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 but was unhappy about playing in such difficult conditions.

"You cannot imagine, one player is going to die and then they're going to see," he said to the camera while wiping off sweat in the third set.

By the time Alcaraz and Zverev appeared on Arthur Ashe for the late match much of the sting had been taken out of the brutal conditions.

Zverev, with his booming serve finding the mark, was able to keep pace with Alcaraz through the early part of the first set.

Alcaraz capitalised on his one break chance of the opener to go up 5-3 and then quickly held serve to take control.

As Zverev's resistance dropped Alcaraz broke again early in second, delighting the crowd with some highlight reel shot-making and twirling his racquet like a baton.

Another break to get in front 5-2 and a hold of serve left Alcaraz with a big smile and Zverev calling for a medical time out.

He returned for the third set with a heavily strapped groin and fought on bravely until Alcaraz grabbed another late break before serving out for the win.

Russia's Daniil Medvedev celebrates winning his US Open quarter-final against countryman Andrey Rublev  at Flushing Meadows, New York, on Wednesday.

IMAGE: Russia's Daniil Medvedev celebrates winning his US Open quarter-final against countryman Andrey Rublev at Flushing Meadows, New York, on Wednesday. Photograph: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

Third seed Daniil Medvedev overcame brutal heat and a gritty Andrey Rublev to fight his way into the US Open last four on Wednesday with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 win over his daughter's godfather, who for the ninth time hit a Grand Slam quarter-final wall.

On another steamy hot day with temperatures in the mid-90s Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) Medvedev was better able deal with the stifling humidity and heat inside Arthur Ashe Stadium than eighth seed Rublev to make the Flushing Meadows semi-finals for the fourth time in five years.

 

Despite getting the victory, Medvedev was not happy about playing in such difficult conditions, the 2021 champion complaining into the camera while wiping off sweat in the third set: "You cannot imagine, one player is going to die and then they're going to see."

For Rublev it was a familiar end to a Grand Slam, made all the more painful coming at the hands of his good friend Medvedev for the third time and second at the US Open.

Nine times Rublev has contested a Grand Slam quarter-final, losing each one with Medvedev also knocking him out at the same stage of the 2020 US Open and 2021 Australian Open.

The all-Russian match lacked the buzz and drama of the all-American late night showdown between Frances Tiafoe and Ben Shelton hours earlier, but the sight of two seeds battling each other and the elements was no less riveting.

"The only good thing I see in these conditions is that both suffer," said Medvedev. "Usually there is not one that suffers so it's tough for both of us."

"Honestly, at the end of the first set I kind of couldn't see the ball anymore," said Medvedev. "I kind of played with sensations."

"Just tried to go for it, tried to run, tried to catch the balls and he did the same."

Medvedev outlasts Rublev to enter semis

Andrey Rublev

IMAGE: For Andrey Rublev it was a familiar end to a Grand Slam, made all the more painful coming at the hands of his good friend Medvedev for the third time and second at the US Open. Photograph: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

Rublev got the contest off to a fast start, grabbing the early break for a 3-0 lead, but Medvedev would hit back, sweeping six of the next seven games for a 1-0 lead.

It was an ominous start to the match for Rublev with Medvedev 25-0 at Flushing Meadows after winning the first set.

With the brutal conditions preventing both players from finding any rhythm, the breaks came fast and furious the next two sets.

Twice in the second they would trade breaks before Medvedev again was able to gain the upper hand with one more break.

Despite the straight sets scoreline the match would come to a heroic finish with Rublev serving at 5-4 down in the third and trying to extend the contest, fighting off four match points before Medvedev finally ended the torture on his fifth try.

"Sometimes before the points I was like 'wow it seems like he cannot run anymore' ... but he was there all the time and I was like 'damn, when is he going to be tired?'," said Medvedev. "But actually we were tired all the time.

"So yeah, brutal conditions and super tough to win." 

Sabalenka eases past Zheng to enter semis

IMAGE: Aryna Sabalenka proved too strong for Zheng Qinwen, pummelling her Chinese opponent with 17 winners and never faced a break-point. Photograph: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

Earlier, second seed Aryna Sabalenka crushed Zheng Qinwen 6-1, 6-4 on Arthur Ashe Stadium to reach her fifth straight Grand Slam semi-final and end the 23rd seed's charmed run at the US Open.

Sabalenka, who will move top of the world rankings next week, pummelled her Chinese opponent with 17 winners and never faced a break-point.

Zheng had never made it to a major quarter-final and endured a miserable time against the Australian Open winner, as she was unable to get much power off her serve and the Belarusian forced her into 23 errors.

Sabalenka will play the winner of a match between American Madison Keys and Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova.

Sabalenka has not dropped a set this year at Flushing Meadows and she won the first five games, dropping only one first-serve point in a near-pristine first set.

Zheng improved her level in the second set, forcing Sabalenka to run back and forth along the baseline as she showed finesse to triumph in a 21-shot rally in the fifth game.

But she helped Sabalenka to the break with a double fault and two unforced errors in the seventh game and never recovered, sending a backhand into the net on match point.

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Source: REUTERS
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