Medvedev downs Auger-Aliassime to reach 2nd US Open final
NEW YORK (AP) — Daniil Medvedev was a point from finding himself tied at a set apiece in his U.S. Open semifinal against Felix Auger-Aliassime.
The No. 2-seeded Medvedev surged out of that tight spot, beat a mistake-prone Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 on Friday and now is headed to his third Grand Slam final.
All in all, this match amounted to an opening act ahead of the headliner: No. 1 Novak Djokovic against No. 4 Alexander Zverev in the second semifinal Friday night.
Djokovic began the day 26-0 at major tournaments in 2021, with titles at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, and his sights on becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete a calendar-year Grand Slam. Laver was seated in the President's Box at Arthur Ashe Stadium for Friday's matches.
Medvedev, a 25-year-old from Russia, was the runner-up to Djokovic at Melbourne Park in February and to Rafael Nadal at Flushing Meadows in 2019. This was Medvedev's third consecutive trip to the U.S. Open semifinals.
The 12th-seeded Auger-Aliassime is a 21-year-old from Canada who is coached by Nadal's uncle, Toni, and was appearing in a major semifinal for the first time.
Maybe the newness of it all affected him. Surely, Medvedev's play did, too.
Auger-Aliassime finished with 39 unforced errors — including 10 double-faults, three in the opening game alone — and just 17 winners.
Compare that to Medvedev's numbers, built with behind-the-baseline court coverage and slick strokes: 37 winners, 25 unforced errors.
Auger-Aliassime finally earned a break point more than an hour in, and a double-fault by Medvedev handed over a 4-2 lead, which quickly became 5-2. But when Auger-Aliassime served for that set at 5-3, he couldn’t get over the line.
Twice, he was a point from taking the set. Twice, it didn’t happen, most disconcerting when he missed what should have been a routine forehand volley, slapping it into the net.
A bad backhand ultimately gave away that game, then more mistakes — among them, a double-fault — contributed to Auger-Aliassime getting broken at love to trail 6-5.
Medvedev then held to cap a five-game run and claim a two-set lead. The match was 1 1/2 hours old and, essentially, over.
Medvedev and Zverev both are in search of a first Grand Slam title. Djokovic, meanwhile, was trying to win a 21st overall title from the sport's four most important tournaments, which would break the men's career mark she shares with Nadal and Roger Federer.
Zverev went into Friday on a 16-match winning streak, including a victory over Djokovic in the Tokyo Olympics semifinals on July 30 along the way to the gold medal. That was a best-of-three-sets match; in New York, the format is best-of-five for men.
The U.S. Open women's final is Saturday, with about as unlikely a matchup as there's ever been with a Grand Slam title on the line: 18-year-old qualifier Emma Raducanu of Britain vs. 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez of Canada.
Raducanu is ranked 150th, is playing in only her second major tournament and is the first player to go through qualifying and make it all the way to a title match. She hasn't dropped a set yet.
Fernandez is ranked 73rd, is in her seventh Slam appearance and is coming off three-set victories over four seeded opponents in a row: No. 3 Naomi Osaka, who won the U.S. Open in 2018 and last year; No. 16 Angelique Kerber, who won it in 2016; No. 5 Elina Svitolina and No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka.
It is the first Grand Slam final between two teenagers since the 1999 U.S. Open, when Serena Williams, 17, won the first of her 23 major championships by defeating Martina Hingis, 18.
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