Daniil Medvedev survived by the skin of his teeth against Hubert Hurkacz in the quarterfinals of the 2021 National Bank Open on Friday. Medvedev won 2-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(5), and will next face John Isner in the semifinals on Saturday.
It was a heartbreaking loss for Hurkacz, who seemed to be the dominant player for most of the encounter. But the Pole showed great sportsmanship after the match by hugging Medvedev warmly at the net, a gesture that the Russian highlighted during his presser.
Medvedev showed immense resilience on Friday despite being outplayed in the first half of the match. He trailed 2-6, 2-3, 15-40 at one point, and even faced a couple of break points in the deciding set.
But with the help of 38 winners, including a mammoth 23 aces, the top seed clawed his way back to clinch an unlikely victory.
Speaking to the media after his win, Medvedev heaped rich praise on Hurkacz for his graciousness in defeat. Citing the close nature of the match, the Russian remarked that he would not have been as sporting as the Pole if he had lost in such a manner.
"He's (Hubert Hurkacz) probably one of the nicest guys on tour," Daniil Medvedev said. "Losing a match like this, I'm talking about myself, I would be probably really disappointed. I would say 'congrats' to the guy but I'd probably not hug him or whatever; I'd just to go in the locker room and cry there. Not literally, but kind of."
Daniil Medvedev likened the match to his clash against Hubert Hurkacz at Wimbledon, which took place a few weeks ago. On that day the Russian was arguably the better player and he even led two sets to one, but eventually ended up on the losing side.
"Yeah, definitely tough match (the one in Toronto)," Daniil Medvedev said. "I feel like in Wimbledon I was much closer to win the match, especially the first day. I feel like I should have closed it in three sets. I remember a few points still."
Medvedev proceeded to point out the closeness of Friday's quarterfinal clash, claiming that it's almost a 50-50 coin toss in such cases.
"Yeah, it was a matter of few points," Daniil Medvedev said. "When you see the score and you didn't see the match straightaway, you say, Wow, what a score. Feels good to win such matches."
"You know, I think in 10 years I'm gonna have maybe 50 matches like this lost, 50 matches like this won," he added. "You're going to need to try to win as many as possible. When you win them, it feels good."
"Like everybody, I feel tight on important points" - Daniil Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev adopted an unusually aggressive approach during the final set tiebreak. The Russian charged the net at arguably the most crucial stage of the encounter, which gave him a match point.
When asked if he is consciously becoming more aggressive during important points, Medvedev responded that he decides his approach based on the situation and the opponent.
According to the 25-year-old, Hurkacz might have dictated the point if he had sat back behind the baseline, which is why he believes he had to be proactive.
"It depends on the moment," Medvedev said. "Depends on the opponent. You know, I felt like Hubert today was actually playing really good also on important points. I was feeling like if I stay back he's going to make something crazy, special, the crowd going to go wild. So I need to try to prevent him from doing this."
Medvedev went on to explain why it is important to maintain your composure in big moments, pointing out how stress often makes you act rashly.
"Of course, like everybody, I feel tight on important points," Daniil Medvedev said. "I try to hold my nerves. Sometimes to go for it is an easier solution, but, well, you need to be sure that you're not doing it to escape the stress. In a way, yes, but to also try to, yeah, to not just escape the stress but to actually do something good with it."