Felix Auger-Aliassime, of Canada, returns against Frances Tiafoe, of the United States, during the fourth round of the US Open tennis championships, Sunday, Sept. 5 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
- No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev faces No. 12 Félix Auger-Aliassime in the US Open semifinals Friday (3 pm ET)
- Medvedev is a strong favorite, even though their only meeting in 2018 couldn’t have been closer
- Read on to see how they got to the final four, and where the value is with such a strong frontrunner
The first men’s semifinal at the US Open was supposed to be Daniil Medvedev vs Stefanos Tsitsipas.
But 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz took care of the No. 3 seed in the third round.
And so it will be Medvedev vs No. 12 seed Félix Auger-Aliassime, who is in his first major semifinal and is a solid underdog.
Auger-Aliassime vs Medvedev Odds
| Félix Auger-Aliassime (CAN)||+6.5 (-140)||+425||O 35.5 (-115)|
| Daniil Medvedev (RUS)||-6.5 (+110)||-650||U 35.5 (-110)|
Odds as of Sept. 9 at DraftKings
Effort to Quarterfinals Crushes Alcaraz
It wasn’t as though Auger-Aliassime wasn’t playing well enough to win anyway.
But he caught a break when Alcaraz, who played a pair of five-setters in the previous two rounds, had his body – specifically, his right adductor – say no más at 3-6, 1-3.
The cumulative nature of best-of-five set tennis is the most challenging thing the young players have to master in Grand Slam tournaments. And Alcaraz was taught a harsh lesson.
And so Auger-Aliassime sailed through Tuesday evening. Which meant he has had nearly three days to think about the biggest match of his life.
Auger-Aliassime vs Medvedev Head-to-Head
|21 (Aug. 8, 2000)||Age||25 (Feb. 11, 1996)|
|Montréal, Canada||Birthplace||Moscow, Russia|
|0||Career ATP Singles Titles||12|
|No. 15 (July 20, 2021)||Career High Ranking||No. 2 (March 15, 2021)|
|No. 15||Current Ranking||No. 2|
|$4,393,274||Career Prize Money||$17,293,705|
|33-18||2021 Won/Loss record||45-10|
|5||Career Head to Head||0|
Auger-Aliassime Taking Advantage of Upsets
The 21-year-old Canadian had No. 3 Tsitsipas and No. 5 Andrey Rublev in his section of the draw.
But unseeded Frances Tiafoe upset Rublev in the third round, and then Auger-Aliassime defeated Tiafoe.
— Tennis GIFs 🎾🎥 (@tennis_gifs) September 6, 2021
Alcaraz took care of Tsitsipas, and then Auger-Aliassime took care of him in the quarterfinals.
So Auger-Aliassime arrived in the final four having had to beat just one seeded player. That was No. 18 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain. Auger-Aliassime won the first two sets, lost the next two and then prevailed in five.
But the abbreviated match against Alcaraz saved him a lot of energy.
Auger-Aliassime vs Medvedev Match History
|2018||Canada Masters (R32)||Outdoor Hard||3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7)||Medvedev|
Medvedev Sailing Through the Draw
Meanwhile, the No. 2 seed has been playing like it.
He had a very friendly draw anyway: No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 11 Diego Schwartzman and No. 8 Casper Ruud were not players expected to challenge him. In the end, he only had to face No. 24 seed Dan Evans along the way.
Daniil Medvedev is back in the #USOpen semi-finals for the third straight year!
He ends Van de Zandschulp’s amazing run 6-3 6-0 4-6 7-5 pic.twitter.com/n1g4zbYuls
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) September 7, 2021
Evans had just played a match that ended in a fifth-set tiebreak, so the tank was a little empty in a four-set loss in the third round.
Through five matches, Medvedev has dropped just one set, an odd one against qualifier Botic Van de Zandschulp in the quarterfinals after he was already up two sets to none.
Matchup vs Auger-Aliassime Favors Medvedev
The two have met just once, in the second round of the Canadian Masters 1000 event in Toronto.
It was Auger-Aliassime’s “home” debut, Beyond that, it was played on his 18th birthday.
Auger-Aliassime fought back from a first-set loss and got to a 4-1 lead in the deciding tiebreak. In the end, Medvedev prevailed 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (11-9 in the tiebreak).
Three years on, Auger-Aliassime is a much-improved player. But so is Medvedev. The Canadian was ranked No. 133 for the last meeting; Medvedev was at No. 68 and had come out of the qualifying.
Serve, Forehand Will Be Key
For Auger-Aliassime, it will be as it ever is in 2021.
He’ll need to serve his best. And he’ll need for his forehand to be firing – but firing consistently, not providing Medvedev with free points.
Above all, he’ll need to trust his fitness and his patience. Because Medvedev’s defense, among his many tools, is what wins him matches like this. The ball is going to come back, so Auger-Aliassime must wait for the right moments to attack.
So far in this tournament, the Canadian’s serve has been his friend. Still, even if he plays his best, Medvedev’s level would have to drop for the upset to happen.
That’s unlikely. But Auger-Aliassime could win the third set, often the set the opponent wins in a four-set Grand Slam loss (+210).
Best Bet: Medvedev to Win in Four Sets (+230)
Stephanie gets the straight dope from the tennis insiders. On court, she has represented her country internationally. A BA in journalism led to years on the MLB beat and a decade covering tennis globally. She’s written for Postmedia, the Guardian, the New York Times and also publishes OpenCourt.ca.