A controversially long break after losing the first set to Alex de Minaur fuelled a stunning comeback from Daniil Medvedev, who ended the top-ranked Australian’s US Open run with a comprehensive four-set victory.
Medvedev, the 2021 champion, complained of breathing issues after losing the first set 6-2 to red-hot de Minaur in their fourth round clash and raced off Louis Armstrong Arena, taking all his gear, which commentator Todd Woodbridge lashed as “gamesmanship”.
Having previously called on tournament medical staff to bring him an inhaler, Medvedev spent a long time in the locker room, which cruelled all of de Minaur’s first-set momentum.
“A 31-minute set, Medvedev leaves the court, took his whole bag … why do you need to leave the court for that long?” Woodbridge said, fuming.
“It’s not a toilet break, is he changing his full kit? Shouldn’t that be at a certain time?
“I tell you, I think our sport really has to do something about these changeovers. It’s just such a crutch that everyone seems to go to when they’re down, and it’s just not part of the game.”
When Medvedev returned he brought his grand slam best, scorching through the next three sets to record a convincing 2-6 6-4 6-1 6-2 victory for the world No.3, serving out the final game to love to end a two-match losing streak against his Australian opponent.
Medvedev called the conditions – pronounced heat and humidity – “brutal” and said they impacted him early before he recovered.
“One moment I thought I’m not going to be able to play until the end it was so tough,” he said.
“Then I looked at him and he’s one of the best guys physically by far and he was starting to move less and less, so I was like, ‘OK, let’s go to five’, and I managed to sever much better and this changed the match.”
De Minaur, the last Australian standing in the event, has only ever reached one grand slam quarter-final, at the US Open in 2020, and despite having his best year against top-10 ranked players, with six victories, he’s been unable to take the next step at the majors.
The 24-year-old, who has jumped to a career-high ranking of 12, had also beaten Medvedev twice in 2023 but, in their first grand slam encounter, was unable to go with the former world No.1 for more than the opening two sets.
Medvedev thrives in New York, where he has now won 25 of his past 27 matches, including his title-winning run in 2021.
Originally published as US Open: Russian Daniil Medvedev lashed for gamesmanship in defeat of Alex de Minaur