Concerns for player safety in rising temperatures
Third seed Daniil Medvedev overcame brutal heat and a gritty Andrey Rublev to fight his way into the U.S. Open last four 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 reaching 32 degrees 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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.”
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.”
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