Reigning Grand slam winner Daniil Medvedev enjoined the growing list of top-seed casualties at Indian Wells 2021 on Wednesday, losing in the fourth round to world No. 28 Grigor Dimitrov 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Medvedev, who won his first US Open title a month ago at Flushing Meadows, had not lost a single set moving into the fourth round but dropped eight straight games, and against Dimitrov had his serve broken six times that caused him a stunning early exit from the tournament.
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 mounted and the service game fell flat.
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’s serve twice more to take the set and lay the foundation for a dominating performance in the third.
The Bulgarian closed out the match on the first match point when Medvedev blasted a forehand long.
Medvedev had no answers to Dimitrov performance and predicted the Bulgarian would likely go on to capture the title.
The Russian champion said, “I don’t remember myself losing three service games, even four service games ever on hard courts.”
World No 2 Medvedev said, “That shows how slow this court is and the conditions, more like clay, which I don’t like. To lose four times the service is just unacceptable. That’s why I lost the (second) set.”
Medvedev did not take a break after his emotional US Open victory and said that his busy schedule might have finally caught up with him.
Medvedev who is trying to overcome world No 1 Novak Djokovic, said, “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.”
Medvedev said, “If he plays like this, like the way he played me from 4-1, then he is going to win the tournament.”
He added that Dimitrov had played the second half of the match better than anyone had done against him at the US Open and that it was not like he gave the match.
While commenting on Medvedev’s form, Dimitrov said, “Been watching quite a bit of his matches. I 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 on Wednesday in the quarter-finals.
The 25-year-old Medvedev beat Djokovic in the US Open final last month to prevent the Serbian star from becoming the first man since the legendary Rod Laver in the 1960s to win all four Grand Slams in the same year.
On Wednesday, Medvedev who rarely commits any mistake made six double faults in the two-hour, 15-minute match in the main stadium.
Medvedev has won 50 matches in 2021. He described this as a minor setback because this event is not a Grand Slam.
This is 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, the second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Australian Alex De Minaur 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 and third-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany overpowered France’s Gael Monfils 6-1, 6-3 in just 61 minutes.
In the women’s draw, two-time winner Victoria Azarenka punched her ticket to the semi-finals with a straight-sets win — 6-4, 6-2 — over Jessica Pegula and will next face Jelena Ostapenko for a spot in the women’s final.