Medvedev juggernaut continues at US Open with Tiafoe demolition

Danil Medvedev of Russia serves the ball against Frances Tiafo of the United States on day eight of the 2020 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 7, 2020
Danil Medvedev of Russia serves the ball against Frances Tiafo of the United States on day eight of the 2020 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 7, 2020
Image: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Daniil Medvedev's bid for a maiden Grand Slam title gathered pace on Monday as the Russian stormed into the US Open quarter-finals with a dominant 6-4 6-1 6-0 win over a listless Frances Tiafoe.

Third seed Medvedev, who lost an epic five-setter to Rafa Nadal in last year's final, barely broke sweat in the evening match at Arthur Ashe Stadium as American Tiafoe's resistance crumbled after going down a break in the second set.

With Roger Federer and Nadal missing, and top seed Novak Djokovic disqualified for hitting a ball into a line judge, Medvedev is now favoured by bookmakers to win in New York.

The only man in the last eight to have not dropped a set, his lone blip against Tiafoe came when broken at 5-2 serving for the first set.

"I think it was maybe my best match (of the tournament)," the 6-ft 6-in (1.98m) 24-year-old told ESPN.

"It's always better to start the tournament a little bit rusty and then get better."

Medvedev will battle 10th-seeded compatriot Andrey Rublev, a player he knows well from junior days, for a semi-final berth.

Rublev overhauled sixth seed Matteo Berrettini in four sets, reaching his second US Open quarter-finals three years after breaking through in 2017 as a 19-year-old bolt from the blue.

Rublev, Medvedev and Karen Khachanov, who was seeded 11th and beaten in the third round, lead a strong Russian generation tipped to challenge for Grand Slam spoils in coming years.

Rublev said he and Medvedev were "crazy on court" when they played each other as children.

"Just throwing the rackets, complaining," he told reporters.

"What I remember from him he was always one of the biggest fighters I've ever seen in my life."

Medvedev said he would resort to lobbing the ball repeatedly at Rublev or other players to try to win.

"Until like maybe 12-years-old, maybe 10, it's true maybe if something was going wrong, I was just doing lobs until I win the match," he said.

"In Russia when there is tournaments (for) under-10s, you play up to four games, which is short, and I was managing to make these matches up to three hours.

"Russian mentality is not easy for tennis."

Second seed Dominic Thiem edged a first-set tiebreak before turning up the heat to romp into the US Open quarter-finals with a resounding 7-6(4) 6-1 6-1 victory over Canadian youngster Felix Augur-Aliassime.

Top seed Novak Djokovic's disqualification on Sunday for striking a line judge with a ball has left Thiem as one of the favourites and the Austrian gave a composed performance to reach the last eight in New York for the second time in his career.

He was helped in his quest for a maiden Grand Slam title by a below-par performance from the talented Augur-Aliassime, who beat Andy Murray in round two but was well off the pace against Thiem, making 51 unforced errors versus the second seed's 24.

After a cagey opening, Thiem drew first blood, breaking his 20-year-old opponent to take a 3-2 lead in the first set after a pair of unforced errors by Augur-Aliassime.

Thiem consolidated with a hold to love, but stumbled in the 10th game, opening with a double fault and offering two break points after a couple of loose backhands before surrendering his serve with another error to allow his opponent to draw level.

Augur-Aliassime started the tiebreak with an ace, but Thiem regained the initiative to open up a 3-1 lead and sealed the set after the Canadian's 24th unforced error.

"The first set was really important," Thiem said in an on-court interview. "I was really nervous before the match.

"I had a chance to serve for the first set, missed it pretty poorly but then the tiebreak was really good. I started to miss less and less."

The Austrian broke Augur-Aliassime's serve again at the start of the second set and did not look back, delivering an ominous statement of intent as he dominated the youngster and ran away with match.

"I've started to find that mix again, which I had last in Australia, I guess," added Thiem, who lost to Djokovic in the Australian Open final. "The perfect mix of offence and defence.

"I'm really not missing a lot, pulling a lot of returns back in play. It was my best match so far and I'm going to try to keep that form for the next one."

Thiem won 74% of his first serve points and was near flawless at the net, while also sending down 22 winners as he wrapped up the contest in a shade over two hours.

Next up for the 26-year-old is a quarter-final clash with Australian youngster Alex de Minaur, who he has beaten in both of their previous meetings, including in the opening round at Flushing Meadows three years ago. 

- Reuters


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