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Monday, March 04 2024

Medvedev beats Alcaraz, heads for his third US Open final

Medvedev beats Alcaraz heads for his third US Open final
Photo Credit : IANS

New York: Daniil Medvedev beat defending champion Carlos Alcaraz, 7-6(3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, to advance to his third US Open final, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

“I said I needed to play 11 out of 10. I played 12 out of 10, except the third set,” Medvedev was quoted as saying by ‘US open’.

“That’s the only way (to beat Alcaraz). He’s so young, already two Grand Slams, and World No. 1 for many weeks, It’s honestly just pretty unbelievable and I think nobody has done it before him, so to beat him you need to be better than yourself and I managed to do it.”

In a matchup of two superstars, each with their own unique set of preternatural tennis talents, the 2021 New York champion, Medvedev got his calculations just right to neutralize the uber-athletic game of Alcaraz with his own brand of metronomic baseline brilliance. The third seed also leaned on a stellar serving performance that peaked in the second set, when he rattled off three straight love holds.

Medvedev was hanging on at the start, battling through a series of tough holds and saving the only two break points of the first set as Alcaraz flew out of the blocks. But the tide began to turn when Medvedev won 12 straight points on serve late in the set, including a pair of love holds.

The third seed shook off a double fault that made it 3-3 in the tiebreak by hitting two forehand winners in a four-point blitz to close the set.

Medvedev drove home that advantage with an instant break in set two, and he did not lose a point on serve in the set until he harmlessly conceded two in serving out the frame.

The inevitable Alcaraz surge came in set three, which he began with a love hold to signal his intent. Always a fan favourite in New York, Alcaraz enjoyed even more backing from Ashe as he began to launch a comeback bid. The Spaniard was in full flow after scoring his first break of the match to lead 3-1, his balletic movements setting him up to power through the lanky Medvedev’s defences.

With the volume turned up, Alcaraz eased through the third set and fashioned an opening at 15-40 early in set four, before Mededev began to recalibrate his resistance. Medvedev escaped that game and then scored the crucial break on his second break point of a mammoth, seven-deuce game to move to the brink of victory at 4-2.

Alcaraz attacked the net with abandon down the stretch, serving and volleying on the majority of the points late in that marathon game. But Medvedev kept forcing him to hit tough volleys, and Alcaraz was stumped on the last two.

In the end, the puzzle presented by Medvedev was too tough to overcome. It was the third seed’s turn to endure a titanic service game in the final game of the match, but he fought off three break points and sealed the deal with a hugely satisfying overhead that bounded high into the stands.

Medvedev’s latest stretch of dominance sets him up for a rematch of that 2021 final against Novak Djokovic—a match he won in straight sets to deny the Serbian a calendar-year Grand Slam.

To stop Djokovic from claiming a record-tying 24th major singles title, Medvedev knows he will need another otherworldly showing.

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