Together with Rafael Nadal, the young Russian Daniil Medvedev has been the player to beat this summer on hard court, reaching four straight finals and lifting the first Masters 1000 crown in Cincinnati! After Wimbledon, Medvedev has conquered 20 out of 22 encounters, gathering an incredible form ahead of New York and standing as one of the dark horses for the US Open crown behind Nadal, Djokovic and Federer.
Tired but determined to prove his class on the most significant tennis stage, Daniil managed to overcome cramps, fatigue, issues with the crowd and six rivals for a career-best result and the opportunity to play for the first Major crown against Rafael Nadal.
Never passing the fourth round at Majors before, Medvedev produced his well-known counterpunching tennis to outplay all the opponents, standing like a wall behind the baseline and passing all the obstacles despite losing four sets overall.
After a quick win over Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Daniil struggled in the second round versus Hugo Dellien, moving through in four sets after two hours and 43 minutes and crapms he had to deal with in the second part of the encounter.
The third clash proved to be even harder, prevailing against Feliciano Lopez 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 in three hours and 19 minutes, clinching those two tie breaks to wrap up the triumph in four sets and avoid spending more time on the court, saving some energy for the upcoming tests.
A qualifier Dominik Koepfer also took a set away from the Russian who celebrated a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 win to advance into the quarters, playing on a high level in the last three sets and doing his best to finish the job before the deciding set.
In the quarters, Daniil took down a former champion Stan Wawrinka 7-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in for two hours and 34 minutes, producing an incredible level of variation and counterpunching to leave the Swiss behind despite not being at 100% physically for days, using his opportunities more efficiently to topple another rival and become the first Russian in the Grand Slam semi-final since Mikhail Youzhny in 2010.
Medvedev delivered better numbers behind the second serve and grabbed four breaks from eight opportunities, saving six out of eight chances in his games to move over the top and set the clash against Roger Federer or Grigor Dimitrov.
They both had a similar number of winners and unforced errors and it all came down to those pivotal points that Daniil claimed to wrap up the action and bring the encounter home without spending more time on the court. Wawrinka suffered a break in the very first game of the match, converting the sixth break point overall in game ten to level the score at 5-5 in the very last moment, setting up a tie break where he wasted a set point at 6-5 to lose it 8-6 and fall behind against the rival who needed the first set badly.
Medvedev served great in set number two, breaking Stan's serve in game four and maintaining the advantage until game nine when he held at 30 to secure the set and move closer to the finish line. Wawrinka finally took charge in the opening games of the third set, forging the advantage and defending it after repelling four break chances at 5-3, prolonging his chances before fading away from the court in set number four, getting broken twice to propel Daniil into the semi-final.
In what was the Tour-leading 50th victory of the season, Medvedev crumbled Grigor Dimitrov 7-6, 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and 38 minutes, becoming the first Russian in the Grand Slam final since Marat Safin in Melbourne 2005 and at the US Open since the same player 19 years ago!
Competing for the fifth out of the last six weeks, Daniil delivered another incredible performance from the baseline to topple world no. 78 who used the favorable draw to achieve the best result since Monte Carlo last year, moving from just inside the top-80 towards the top-25 and hoping for more of the same in the rest of the season.
That wasn't enough for Medvedev, though, with the Russian settling behind the baseline and controlling the pace of the rallies with outstanding accuracy, despite serving under 50%! Grigor had more winners but also more errors, unable to impose his shots despite some great ball striking and a mixture of deep strokes and slices, unable to find an empty space on the court and move Daniil from the comfort zone.
Both players had nine break chances and the Russian converted five, fending off six on the other hand to forge the gap and move into the most significant final in a career. They traded early breaks in the opening set and stayed neck and neck until the tie break, with Medvedev repelling a set point in game 12 with a solid attack and earning four mini-breaks in the breaker for a 7-5 after more than an hour.
The second set offered four breaks in the first five games, in the worst period for the servers in the entire encounter, with Grigor wasting three game points at 4-5 and netting a backhand that pushed Medvedev 7-6, 6-4 up after just over two hours.
Things looked better and better for the Russian who lost only six points behind the initial shot in set number three, keeping the pressure on Dimitrov and breaking him in game four to create the pivotal advantage. The Bulgarian saved two match points at 2-5 but it was all over when Daniil held at 15 in the next game to propel himself into the first Grand Slam final.