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Clinical Medvedev beats childhood friend to reach U.S. Open semis

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Daniil Medvedev continued his march towards a first Grand Slam title on Wednesday, powering into the U.S. Open semi-finals with a clinical 7-6(6) 6-3 7-6(5) victory over childhood friend Andrey Rublev.

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The first Russian duo in the quarter-finals at a Grand Slam since Igor Andreev and Nikolay Davydenko at Roland Garros in 2007, Medvedev showed no fear during a ruthless display that sent him through to the last four without losing a set.

No player in the Open Era has won the U.S. Open men’s title without dropping a set.

With Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal missing, and top seed Novak Djokovic having been disqualified for hitting a line judge with a ball, Medvedev showed why he is now the bookmakers’ favourite to win in New York.

The third seed never gave Rublev a break chance in the entire match while hammering down 16 aces.

“I felt like I could get in trouble so I was very happy with the win,” said Medvedev, who called for the trainer to work on his shoulder during the match. “One point decided two sets so it was a tough match.”

Medvedev, who lost an epic five-setter to Nadal in last year’s final, awaits the winner between second-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem and Australian Alex de Minaur.

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Having competed against each other since they were young kids the practice partners knew exactly what to expect and a grinding 63-minute opening set offered no surprises or breaks.

Rublev, who had never taken a set off Medvedev in three career meetings, looked poised to end that run when he went 6-3 up in the tiebreak but the 10th seed was unable to close the deal as Medvedev swept five straight points.

“There is more chance you lose a set down 5-1 than win it,” said Medvedev. “Usually he is very aggressive but today he was trying to put the ball in the court more so I tried to be more aggressive and really go for it even in the third set tiebreaker and it worked out for me.”

The collapse sent the volatile Rublev into a rage, smashing his racket, throwing towels and yelling at his coach and the 22-year-old never recovered.

Medvedev maintained pressure in the second, registering the only break of the match to nose in front 4-2 on way to a commanding 2-0 advantage.

Rublev continued to battle but Medvedev gave him no openings and closed out the match 7-5 in a tiebreak.

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Toby Davis and Ed Osmond

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