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.