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Medvedev struggles physically and mentally but advances to Indian Wells quarters

March is all about surviving and advancing–and not just in the NCAA Tournament.

Daniil Medvedev has booked a spot in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open, but to say that it wasn’t easy would be a gross understatement. Medvedev needed three sets in a second consecutive match on Tuesday afternoon, this time against Alexander Zverev. The former world No. 1 battled an improving opponent, tough conditions (again), and a mid-match ankle injury to prevail 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-5 after three hours and 17 minutes and secure a spot in the quarterfinals.

A few weeks ago in Dubai (semifinals) and then in Indian Wells (fourth round), Zverev played his best tennis since getting injured at the 2022 French Open. The 25-year-old German came close to earning a quarterfinal berth at this Masters 1000 event, but he couldn’t quite close out Medvedev in straight sets and then he cracked on serve late in the third. Zverev did well to break back with the Russian serving for victory at 5-4, even saving one match point, but he double-faulted on break point to fall behind 6-5. This time Medvedev made no mistake with the win on his racket.

Although Medvedev was a heavy favorite going into the contest, it looked like his streaks of three titles in a row and 16 straight match wins would come to end when he suffered an ankle injury of his own midway through the second set. Somehow, though, the fifth seed pushed through one and a half more sets and one and a half more hours to keep his streaks alive.

“I twisted it, let’s say, pretty bad,” Medvedev said during his press conference. “The moment I twisted it I thought it’s gonna be just fine and I’m gonna stand up, and then the pain started raising. I actually thought it’s gonna be bad and I’m not gonna be able to continue. Then they taped it. In the beginning it was quite painful, so I was more concerned and focused on my ankle than the game.

“Then that actually helped me a little bit to play better. For the rest of the match adrenaline was probably kicking in. So it was not easy to walk; that’s why I was limping…. Now that I have cooled down, it’s big (pain). I cannot walk properly. But if everything is going to be fine, I’m gonna tape it tomorrow, take one painkiller, and go to play. So (there’s) not much more to add for the moment. (It’s) pretty painful, but nothing too bad, hopefully.”

If Medvedev is able to play against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Wednesday, he will once again deal with slow conditions that have troubled him all tournament long.

In Sunday’s 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 defeat of Ilya Ivashka, Medvedev–after losing the second set–threatened to be as slow taking a bathroom break as the speed of the court. The 27-year-old didn’t just threaten to go slow during his trip to the toilet after dropping the second set to Zverev on Tuesday. He actually did! He went on another rant about the conditions, too.

Afterward, Medvedev was apologetic for his behavior

“I don’t like my behavior on court,” the 2021 U.S. Open champion admitted. “I get crazy. The attitude I had on the court today and with Ivashka was immature…. That’s something I’m going to constantly try to work throughout my whole career, because I definitely want to be remembered not for my tantrums but more for my game and for my good parts of my personality. I’m sure I’m going to improve.”

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