Daniil Medvedev is hurting. Sore adductors, painful right shoulder, heavily taped thigh. He said he considered withdrawing mid-match in Tuesday’s U.S. Open quarterfinal against the tournament’s 2016 champ, Stan Wawrinka.
Medvedev won rather convincingly, 7-6 (6), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
He has been fined $19,000 so far in the tournament—for snatching a towel from a ball person, for holding a middle finger to his temple in defiance of crowd booing, for verbal and equipment abuse.
He offered the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd two words—“electricity and controversy”—after Tuesday’s match, referring to the fans’ energy and saying they couldn’t resist watching whether his behavior was good or bad.
At 23, on a rollicking streak of 21 wins in his last 23 matches, including his first two tour titles, Medvedev is now two victories from being the first Russian since Marat Safin, in 2000, to win the Open.
“I can say that many people, when they were watching Marat when we were young, that’s why we threw the racket,” he said. “You’re watching him and you think it’s cool. You think, ‘Okay, I’m going to be like Marat. I’m going to break my racket right now.’”
On this occasion, he didn’t throw a racket. And any thoughts of retiring against Wawrinka left “when I was close to being 2-0 up in sets,” he said. He had been hobbling seven games into the match, when already guilty of seven double faults—he finished with 12—and called for the trainer, but it was Wawrinka who made errors on the crucial points.
“I saw him saying the last two matches that he didn’t feel he could play,” Wawrinka said, “but he’s still winning, still playing well, and still playing better and better as the match goes on.
“I’m pretty sure all the players, 95 percent, we have pain. We deal with it the way he’s doing it. So that’s why I’m saying, when he was taking time out, for me was not a problem. I knew he will fight, anyway.”
Medvedev has said that his tactic is “to make my opponent suffer,” and that he creates discomfort on the other side of the net with consistency and all-court play as opposed to power. On Tuesday, he chased Wawrinka constantly out of position.
“Yeah, that’s what he’s good at,” Wawrinka confirmed. “He’s playing a different ball. He’s really solid from the baseline.”
In 2019, Medvedev already has more match victories—49—than any other player on the tour, already has beaten top-ranked Novak Djokovic twice (in Ohio last month and Monte-Carlo earlier). Can he win this Open?
“He can,” Wawrinka said, “but I don’t think he will. Well, he’s already top 5, so he’s already at the top. Simple as that.”
He could even make friends with the fans. “Hopefully,” Medvedev said, “but it’s not for me to decide.” As he left the court to a fairly good helping of boos, Medvedev told the spectators, “Sorry, guys. And thank you.”