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US Open champ Medvedev stunned

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Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria hits a forehand reply to Daniil Medvedev of Russia in their Round of 16 match at the Indian Wells tennis tournament on Wednesday. AFP

US Open champ Medvedev stunned

Reigning US Open champion Daniil Medvedev is out of the ATP Indian Wells Masters, falling in stunning fashion in the fourth round to No 23 seed Grigor Dimitrov 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Wednesday.

Medvedev, who won his first Grand Slam title last month at Flushing Meadows, hadn’t lost a set heading into the fourth round but dropped eight straight games against Dimitrov en route to a stunning early exit for the top seed.

World No2 Medvedev did not take a break after his emotional US Open victory and said his busy schedule may have finally caught up to him.

“I did feel exhausted in this tournament. Now I can say it. I couldn’t say it before my matches. There are a few physical things that have come up,” said Medvedev, who is hoping to eventually overtake Novak Djokovic for No1 in the world.

Medvedev won the first set, was up 4-1 in the second and appeared to be cruising to another easy victory when the wheels came off – his unforced errors mounting and service game falling flat.

Medvedev had no answers for the way Dimitrov was playing and predicted the Bulgarian would likely go on to capture the title.

“If he plays like this, like the way he played me from 4-1, then he is going to win the tournament,” Medvedev said. “He played the second half of the match better than anyone did against me at the US Open. It is not like I gave him the match.”

The match turned in the sixth game of the second set as Dimitrov broke Medvedev’s serve for the second time in the set to cut the Russian’s lead to 4-2.

Dimitrov held serve in the next game and then broke Medvedev twice more to take the set and set the tone for a dominating performance in the third.

The Bulgarian closed out the match on the first match point when Medvedev blasted a forehand long.

“Been watching quite a bit of his matches,” Dimitrov said of Medvedev. “I really wanted to play this match to be completely honest. What he has been able to accomplish this past year and a half is pretty amazing. I think it really pushes me also to do better.”

Dimitrov will face Polish eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz, who rolled over Russian Aslan Karatsev 6-1, 6-3 earlier on Wednesday, in the quarter-finals.

Minor setback

The 25-year-old Medvedev beat Djokovic in the US Open final last month to prevent the Serb star from becoming the first man since the legendary Rod Laver in the 1960s to win all four Grand Slams in the same year.

Medvedev managed to break Dimitrov in the first game of the first two sets but that is small consolation for the loss.

Medvedev made six double faults and had his serve broken six times in the two hour, 15 minute match in the main stadium.

Medvedev, who has won 50 matches in 2021, described this as a minor setback because this event is not a Grand Slam.

“I don’t see this as the end of the world. I don’t think this would happen in a Grand Slam. There are some small points I could have done better,” he said.

This is just the second time Dimitrov has beaten Medvedev in five career meetings. The last time was a three-set win in their first encounter in 2017 in London.

In other men’s matches on Wednesday, Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman defeated Casper Ruud of Norway 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarters.

In the women’s draw, two-winner Victoria Azarenka punched her ticket to the semi-finals with a straight set win, 6-4, 6-2, over Jessica Pegula.

Azarenka, who is the lone player left in the women’s and men’s field to have won in Indian Wells, captured the title in 2012 and 2016.

The 32-year-old from Belarus needed just 94 minutes to end the run of American Pegula and reach the final four of this event for the fourth time in her career.

“I really played well in the crucial moments,” Azarenka said. “I felt like I stepped up to the occasion a lot. That’s what I’m really happy with today.”

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