US Open: Daniil Medvedev books semi-final spot after winning all-Russian encounter against Andrey Rublev

Advanced: Daniil Medvedev  (Getty Images)
Advanced: Daniil Medvedev (Getty Images)

Nine times Andrey Rublev has made it to the quarter-finals of a grand slam and not once has he gone any further.

For all the 25-year-old’s brilliance, in all three sets he let his advantage slip in a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 loss to lifelong friend Daniil Medvedev.

Before the meeting of the Muscovites, the pair had talked about a friendship dating back to when Rublev was just six years old, further cemented when he became godfather to Medvedev’s daughter.

Seven times they had previously met with Medvedev winning five but tellingly Rublev having been victorious in two of the last three.

But it will be Rublev, who had knocked out Britain’s Jack Draper in the earlier round, who will be left ruing what might have been having made his third quarter-final at a major this year without making that career breakthrough to the last four.

Rublev clearly has the weapons to be a top player - despite his lack of grand slam success he has won 14 ATP Tour titles - but not the self-belief as was evident in each of the three sets that loosely followed the same pattern.

On each occasion, the younger of the two Russians got the early break only to be whittled down and outmanouevred by a player sometimes referred to as The Chessmaster.

He broke the opening Medvedev service game of the match and raced into a three-game lead which was quickly eroded on the other side of the net. The set ended with Rublev remonstrating with umpire James Keothavong but more down to his own undoing than anything else.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

He broke to love in game four of the second set to go 3-1 clear but again found himself reeled in and then surpassed.

As Rublev’s confidence and hence game ebbed and flowed, Medvedev had issues of his own. He needed to call the trainer and then took an asthma inhaler from a medica at the start of the third set.

Also, he remonstrated with the camera about the heat, saying “one player is going to die and then they’re going to see” in the infernal daytime heat.

Despite his obvious issues and falling the first break behind following a 12-minute game in set three which the rallies were averaged 14 shots.

It marked the start of three successive breaks of serve but, again, as the set reached the business end, it was the 2021 US Open champion who pulled away to book his semi-final spot.

To Rublev’s credit, he showed the mental fortitude to fend off four match points before Medvedev reached the last four with a limp Rublev forehand low into the net.

Afterwards, Medvedev, who rated his performance 10 out of 10, said: “It was brutal. The only good thing in these conditions is that both suffer. It’s tough for both of us. I do think there were some ups and downs. Honestly, at the end of the first set I couldn’t see the ball anymore. I sort of played with sensations.”