Daniil Medvedev has soared into the US Open quarterfinals without the loss of a set and is building some serious momentum in New York.
The No.2 seed dismissed Dan Evans 6-3 6-4 6-3 and seems an increasingly likely candidate to emerge from his wide-open half of the draw, and so arrive in his second final at Flushing Meadows in the past three years.
Evans, the 24th seed, could only tip his hat to the level Medvedev produced on Sunday.
“You're looking at the draw hoping he's nowhere near me for the rest of my days,” Evans smiled, when asked what he had learned from the loss.
“I think you just got to take it as it is. Got a good, healthy lesson out there. It's just a tough match. Some people are better than you, and that's it really.
“I will tell you it looks very unorthodox, but he's hitting the ball pretty big, very close to the lines. I think the serve for me is the thing, I thin, is a bit underrated. He goes through his service games very quickly.
“Everyone knows how well he moves. But … how he goes from deep to up the court so quick is another very difficult thing to see on television until you play him.”
World No.1 Novak Djokovic, continuing his quest for an incredible calendar-year Grand Slam, is the near-unanimous favourite for this year’s US Open trophy.
However, Medvedev in the past few months has compiled some extraordinary statistics and looms as Djokovic’s most serious challenger.
The Russian has won 25 of his past 27 sets, and 23 of his past 26 matches, starting with his title run in Mallorca on grass in June.
On North American hard courts since the Olympics, he’s 12-1, after capturing the Toronto Masters trophy and advancing to the Cincinnati semifinals, where countryman Andrey Rublev stopped him in three sets.
At the US Open, Medvedev has reached the quarterfinal stage for the third straight year, winning 15 of his most recent 17 matches at the tournament.
“(I’m) feeling great before the second week. Feeling great with my tennis, my mental, my physical. Just looking forward,” said Medvedev, who next faces 117th-ranked Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp.
“I always say I take it match by match. You can lose first round, you can lose final. If I play good, I know what I'm capable of. It's tough to beat me.
“I want to win every tournament I play in, without putting pressure on myself. Because again, I know how to win matches, and I know sometimes why I lose them, so that's just learning and being better for the next time.”
Medvedev is indeed growing in experience, having now played five full seasons of Grand Slam main draws and been ranked in the top five for two years.
Since advancing to his maiden major final at the 2019 US Open, he backed that up with a trip to the Australian Open 2021 final, where he lost to Djokovic.
He says this experience differentiates him from the player he was back in 2019, who was also extremely successful; his 2019 final at Flushing Meadows came amid a glorious span of six straight tournament finals which featured two Masters titles.
He hopes to take this experience into his showdown against van de Zandschulp – someone who is completely inexperienced at this level.
“I saw few matches of him before… Saw him practice a few times. I know kind of how he plays. I know he can play good. I saw this today, especially he chose very good tactic against Diego (Schwartzman),” Medvedev said.
“Again, if I serve well, if I play well, I know that it's not easy to play against me.
“He has some matches in his legs. I'm going to try to use it and try to win.”