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Ricky’s Tennis Preview and Pick for the U.S. Open Semifinal Between Mevedev and Auger-Aliassime


By Ricky Dimon

Novak Djokovic vs. Alexander Zverev may be the marquee matchup of the two U.S. Open semifinals, but the other one is not too shabby either. Daniil Medvedev is going up against Felix Auger-Aliassime in a battle between two potential future Grand Slam champions–perhaps champions sooner rather than later, too.

Ricky previews the match and makes his prediction.

(12) Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. (2) Daniil Medvedev

For Medvedev, a win would mark a third major final appearance and second in New York City. The 25-year-old Russian finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal in 2019 before making a run to the 2021 Australian Open title match and–in much less competitive fashion–losing to Djokovic. As the No. 2 player in the world and recent Toronto champion, Medvedev may be Djokovic’s biggest threat to the calendar-year Grand Slam.

The 25-year-old had no trouble battling his way into the semifinals this fortnight. He defeated Richard Gasquet, Dominik Koepfer, Pablo Andujar, and Dan Evans in straight sets without even being pushed to a single tiebreaker before holding off Botic Van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-0, 4-6, 7-5 in the quarters.

This is Auger-Aliassime’s third successful slam of the season and second in a row. The 21-year-old reached the fourth round Down Under (lost to Aslan Karatsev from two sets up) and the Wimbledon quarterfinals (lost to eventual runner-up Matteo Berrettini). So far in New York he has ousted Evgeny Donskoy, Bernabe Zapata Miralles, Roberto Bautista Agut (in five sets), Frances Tiafoe, and Carlos Alcaraz (via second-set retirement).

“I’m happy that (at) this tournament, on a stage like this, the US Open, to be performing the way I’m performing,” Auger-Aliassime commented. “At the same time I’m still in the tournament. The best part is that it’s not over.”

Many expect it to be over with Medvedev now on the other side of the net. But the Canadian could not have been more competitive in their only previous contest. At the 2018 Toronto Masters, Medvedev survived 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(7).

“It was already a great match back then,” Auger-Aliassime reflected. “I actually was up a break (in the third set). I had a few chances; it was a tight loss. We’re both very different players. I think he was just 50 or 60 in the world at the time. I was not even top hundred. So, yeah, very different situation.

“Of course he’s going to come in with a lot of confidence. I also need to step up and be confident in myself. I need to serve well. I need to play a great match–be solid from every aspect of my game. At the same time I need to try to put pressure on him. But it’s going to be tough. I need to be ready for his best. I need to lace my shoes really well, too, because there’s going to be a lot of running. We’ll see; it’s going to be interesting.”

“He’s already (been) here for (a) long time,” Medvedev said of Auger-Aliassime. “(It’s) great for him to be [taking] these steps.”

It is true that the world No. 15 has been around longer than most 21-year-old’s, but he has never played in a slam semifinal. Medvedev is 2-1 lifetime in major semis, having lost only to eventual champ Dominic Thiem last summer in New York.

In typical Medvedev fashion, the second seed will surely return serve from many meters behind the baseline, get a ton of balls back in play, and make the points as long as possible. In the end, his experience and guile will likely break down a stern test from Auger-Aliassime.

Pick: Medvedev in 4

Ricky contributes to
 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.