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Hobbled Daniil Medvedev limps to 3rd-round win at Miami Open

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Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, walks gingerly to the net after defeating Alexei Popyrin, of Australia, during the Miami Open tennis tournament, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MIAMI – Daniil Medvedev could barely walk, much less run. He could still serve, though.

The top-ranked Medvedev held his final two service games despite being hobbled by cramps and beat Alexei Popyrin 7-6 (3), 6-7 (7), 6-4 in the third round at the Miami Open.

Medvedev said the victory brought a special sort of satisfaction.

“Winning a Grand Slam final in straight sets doesn’t feel the way I felt after the match point today,” he said with a grin. "A match to remember for sure."

Medvedev failed to convert three match points in the second set after taking a 5-2 lead. An hour later the Russian was still playing, and on a humid afternoon with temperatures in the mid 80s, he paid a price.

He broke in the final set for a 4-3 lead, but by then he was limping around the court.

“I felt like my legs were not following me anymore,” Medvedev said. “The only thing I was thinking about is not to fall down, because if you fall down, I don’t think I would be able to get up. There were a few moments I just wanted to lay down and say, ‘OK, it’s over.’ That’s the thing I couldn’t accept myself to do.”

To keep rallies short, Medvedev began hitting high-risk shots, and made enough of them — serves especially — to close out the 2 1/2-hour match.