After an in-form week in the men’s draw in Cincinnati, two surprises took place in the semifinals Saturday.
Daniil Medvedev was a perfect 4-0 and 10-0 in sets against Andrey Rublev heading into their fifth showdown. Medvedev looked well on his way to another romp taking the opener in comfortable fashion 6-2 after Rublev sprayed 18 unforced errors.
But at 1-all in the second, Medvedev, who plays so far back in the court, slammed into one of the baseline corner cameras on his backhand side.
“I almost broke my hand,” Medvedev barked. He would get treatment on his hand but things had changed.
Rublev got some confidence and began working the net and things paid off. He got a break, the his first set and with help from the crowd, managed a second one the third after Medvedev couldn’t find the range in the seventh game.
”Even when I was 2-6 down, the score should not have been like this because the points were so tight,” Rublev said in his on-court interview. “The match was so intense, so many long rallies, super tough, super physical, super mental. A lot like a chess match.
“Medvedev is one of those players who won’t give you a chance to attack, but if I have enough power and chose the right moment, I have to be the one to make him run. In the end, I was trying to find the perfect moment to start being more aggressive to open the angles.
“It gives me more confidence that I can compete against him. There are still so many things to improve, but It’s like you pass university and they give you a diploma.”
Into his second Masters final, Rublev will another 6-foot-6 foe in gold medalist Alexander Zverev. The German took down Stefanos Tsitsipas from a double-break down in the third to win it 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4).
Zverev, who fell to the Greek in five at the French, busted out on top with a set and a break lead. But Tsitsipas stormed back winning six of the last seven games of the second set.
Tsitispas, who often leaves the court after the second, was unable to do so after already exhausting his bathroom break after the first.
Zverev complained after Tsitsipas left the court that the Greek took his phone to get coaching from his father who was seen also on his phone with his son off the court.
If there were notes exchanged, it worked. Tsitsipas continued his momentum going up 4-1 in the third – he’d now won 10 of his last 12 games since he left the court!
But after a long rally ending with a Zverev backhand winner, the German steadied, though wobbled off court and appeared to vomit in the tunnel.
Zverev got a break back and then another as Tsitsipas failed to serve it out. Battling his stomach, Zverev stayed strong and prevailed in the breaker.
“I didn’t feel well,” said Zverev who was 0-6 at the event. “In the middle of the second set I felt low energy and my stomach wasn’t great. I broke him at 4-2 in the third and went outside the court and did my thing. I started to feel better, the doctor came out and gave me a little medicine and my stomach started to calm down a little. The energy came back but I think that was also adrenaline.”
Like Medvedev, Zverev also goes in with a 4-0 lead against Rublev. And Zverev’s also streaking having won his last 10 matches.
“Is playing the tennis of his life,” Zverev said. “It’s going to be of course a tough one but also a fun one. I have known Andrey since we were 11 years old. We have been pretty much best friends for a long period of time. It’s great to see how long of a way we came and that we are playing the biggest matches and competing for the biggest titles together.”
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