‘Chess player’ Daniil Medvedev looks the one to beat at US Open – Eurosport.com

Chess Tournament

Daniil Medvedevs win over Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals of the US Open featured plenty of plus points for the third seed.

Another straight-sets win. A dominant serving display. No break points faced. A battling finish.

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Yet it was something else that stood out most.

It was the feeling that Medvedev - last year's beaten finalist in New York - could take things up to another gear whenever he wanted. That at times he was almost holding back from blowing Rublev off the court, even though he still finished with 51 winners.

Dominic Thiem, Medvedevs semi-finals opponent, even drew comparisons to Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

I would say that he comes very close to the big three players in terms that he can play his level, his top level, for doesnt matter how long, I mean, four, five, six hours, said Thiem, the highest seed remaining at the tournament following Djokovics disqualification.

As so often with Djokovic, Federer and Nadal, there never seemed a sense that Medvedev might lose the match or that he would be overwhelmed, overpowered or outmanoeuvred by Rublev.

He looked in control from start to finish, helped by the best serve at this years tournament (he has faced only nine break points and won 96 percent of his service games) and an ability to soak up pressure and then swiftly switch defence to attack.

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Daniil doesn't play the scoreboard, he plays tactics, he plays momentum and he just keeps plugging away," says Eurosports Mats Wilander.

Wilanders analysis tallies up with the post-match assessment from Medvedev, who acknowledged he altered his approach during the contest.

During the match I felt like I needed to change it because he was actually better than me in defence today, and he was controlling the pace of the rally when we were playing slow.

I needed to put it up, and it worked a lot. I was making a lot of winners I saw after the match, which I think is amazing when we play with Rublev. That I had more winners than him, it's something unbelievable for me. But it shows that I was able to really adjust my game during the match and do it in a right way.

Medvedev is yet to drop a set at the US Open

Image credit: Getty Images

Rublev also revealed another side to Medvedev that makes him stand out.

When Rublev lost the first set after being 5-1 and 6-3 ahead in the tie-break he screamed in frustration, then slammed his racquet followed by a banana into the ground. Even at the start of the second set he didnt look as though he had let his annoyance slip away.

For sure top players they will not do the things that I did after the set, admitted Rublev afterwards. That's the difference between me and the top players.

Rublev is ranked 14th in the world - and produced a fine display to beat sixth seed Matteo Berrettini in the previous round but Medvedev is a level above.

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At 24 he is slightly older than most of the next generation who have been predicted to topple the Big Three, but he arguably looks best placed to do so, along with Thiem.

It would have been fascinating to see if either of them could overpower Djokovic in the final, especially given both have won two of their last three meetings against the world No 1.

But Medvedev is bidding to do something that even Djokovic has not yet achieved, and something no man has achieved in the Open era - win the US Open without dropping a set.

He is building that reputation that it is tough to play against him, said Wilander.

"You really don't know what he's going to do next with the second serve, you don't know when he's going to smack the forehand or push it back. He's very unpredictable, the only predictable thing is that he's going to play smart.

That new-found smart play could be key in helping Medvedev get his Grand Slam ball rolling.

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09/09/2020 AT 20:31

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'Chess player' Daniil Medvedev looks the one to beat at US Open - Eurosport.com

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