The last two kings of New York face to face. There is worse as a trailer before a Grand Slam semi-final. If in the lower part of the table Ben Shelton created the event to make his way to the innkeeper Novak Djokovic, the leaders therefore ensured in the upper part. And it is not a surprise given the references of the two men at the US Open: in addition to their respective titles in 2021 and 2022, the Russian has a final in 2019 and a half in 2020, while the Spaniard had reached the quarterbacks at only 18 years old for his first participation two years ago.
Still, if the presence of Alcaraz at this stage was almost obvious, given his triumph at Wimbledon and his dantesque final in Cincinnati in preparation against Djokovic, that of Medvedev was less so. For what ? Quite simply because the Russian, contrary to his good habits on the hard American, had not impressed either in Toronto or in Ohio, failing respectively in the quarter and round of 16 against Alex de Minaur and Alexander Zverev.
He therefore did not approach this fortnight at the height of his confidence, he quickly regained his feelings and showed that at the best of five sets, he was a different animal. After an uneventful start to the tournament, but during which he showed some lack of concentration, especially during his second round against Christopher O’Connell, he clearly moved up a gear in the second week. In the round of 16, after a difficult start, he took a resounding revenge on Alex de Minaur, before defeating his compatriot and close friend Andrey Rublev in pain but… in three sets.
Tennistically, Medvedev has thus returned to the level and seems ready to tackle the Alcaraz mountain. Because it is indeed a mountain. Like the Russian, the Spaniard conceded only one set in five matches, but the impression left is even greater. Spectacular in sequences, he accelerates and makes the difference when he wishes in his games. A slight drop in tension except against Daniel Evans, he wandered, and in rather staggering proportions against Zverev in the quarter, while giving the impression of managing. To overthrow the new monster, Medvedev will therefore have a lot to do.
Face to face
Looking at the raw record between the two men, it doesn’t look too lopsided: they’ve only faced each other three times and Alcaraz only lead 2-1. Yes, but here it is, Medvedev’s only victory dates from a 2nd round at Wimbledon in… 2021 (6-4, 6-2, 6-1) when the Spaniard was still very young (18 years old) and had not exploded to the highest level. During their two other duels which took place this season, there was no photo. Whether in the final at Indian Wells (6-3, 6-2) on hard court or in the half at Wimbledon (6-3, 6-3, 6-3) on grass, the Murcian has clearly imposed his law.
1er tour : bat Dominik Koepfer [ALL] on surrender 6-3, 3-2 ab.
2e tour : bat Lloyd Harris [RSA] 6-3, 6-1, 7-6(4)
3e tour : bat Daniel Evans [GBR/N.26] 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
1/8e of final : bat Matteo Arnaldi [ITA] 6-3, 6-3, 6-4
1/4 finals : beat Alexander Zverev [ALL/N.12] 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
1er tour : bat Attila Balazs [HON] 6-1, 6-1, 6-0
2e tour : bat Christopher O’Connell [AUS] 6-2, 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-2
3e tour : bat Sebastian Baez [ARG] 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(6)
1/8 finals: beat Alex de Minaur [AUS/N.13] 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2
1/4 finale: bat Andrey Rublev [RUS/N.8] 6-4, 6-3, 6-4
The X Factor: Extreme Weather Conditions
Tennis and tactical considerations will obviously be important in this semi-final. But will they be fundamental? During his quarter against Rublev, Medvedev also fought above all against the elements, to the point of being in pain, overwhelmed by the humid heat. For Alcaraz, the event was less trying in the “night session” despite the ambient humidity.
On Friday, the forecasts in New York seem slightly more lenient: 30°C are announced during the day (against 35 on Wednesday) and 75% humidity. If the duel is played in the evening, it should however be much cooler, but with even higher humidity (86%) and a risk of thunderstorms. The physical balance of power will necessarily play a major role, which is more at this stage of the tournament.
Carlos Alcaraz: “The last times I played Daniil I was perfect tactically. I did pretty well everything I needed to do against him, I think my game suits this kind of game well. opponent. So I will try to do the same as Indian Wells and Wimbledon, to win I hope at least.”
Daniil Medvedev: “I said I was giving myself a 10 out of 10 on my form after the game against Rublev? It has to be 11 out of 10 against Carlos, that tells you how strong he is. Even if he lost a set in his career, I watched some of his matches and sometimes he finds these passing shots on break points… It’s unbelievable.”
Three stats to remember
5. At 20 years and four months, Carlos Alcaraz has become the fifth youngest player in history to already have four Grand Slam semi-finals under his belt. Only Boris Becker, Mats Wilander, Björn Borg and Andre Agassi are ahead of him. He does better than Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in this area.
36. This is the number of breaks made so far by Daniil Medvedev, more than any other player in this fortnight (Djokovic is 2nd in this area with 32 breaks, Alcaraz, 8th, has “only” 23 at this stadium). The Russian thus seizes almost half the time of the opposing service in this tournament. Will he find the solution against the Spaniard who has the second most effective ball in New York (63% of points won behind)?
12. It’s been twelve years since the first three seeds have been, like this year (Alcaraz, Djokovic, Medvedev), in the last four at the US Open, the most unpredictable Grand Slam tournament recently. At the time, in 2011, the three lucky winners were naturally Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, which further highlights the Serbian’s longevity.
Tennis is above all a balance of power. And seeing the world numbers 1 and 3, winners of the last two editions of the US Open, cross swords in the semi-finals is enough to make your mouth water. But who says balance of power, says compatibility (or not) of styles of play. During their last duels, one observation struck people: Daniil Medvedev’s tennis seems to allow Carlos Alcaraz to give his full measure, the opposite is not true.
As much tactically as tennis, the Murcian largely dominated his rival in 2023, taking wonderful advantage in particular of the very remote position of the Russian on the restart to dictate his pace. Aggressive in the forehand from the second shot, he often varies intelligently with a good dose of serve and volley, thus partially annihilating Medvedev’s great strength: his quality of return and his ability to make the exchange last.
In this face-to-face, it is Medvedev who is therefore forced to evolve in his approach. Will he advance further on the relaunch? Will he be more aggressive in the exchange? One thing is certain: he will have to get out of his comfort zone, even if it means overplaying, even if he loves the hard New York where the rebound is lower than in Indian Wells where he had been crushed. A priori, Alcaraz therefore has the keys, especially since physically, he has suffered less from the New York humid heat than the Russian so far. A hard fight would delight us, but will it take place? Nothing is less certain, even if “Carlitos” has sometimes lost focus in this fortnight.
Our prediction: Carlos Alcaraz in four sets
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