Dominic Thiem has ruthlessly ended Alex De Minaur’s US Open campaign with a performance labelled “absurd” and even “rude”.
The Austrian title favourite sent the Aussie packing with a crushing straight-sets quarter-final win in New York on Wednesday.
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Thiem needed a tick over two hours to send Australia's last hope packing with a 6-2 6-1 6-4 victory that further underlined the 27-year-old's championship credentials.
Runner-up to Novak Djokovic in a controversial five-set Australian Open final in January, World No.3 Thiem is the highest-ranked player left in the draw.
He next faces Russian third seed and 2019 finalist Daniil Medvedev on Saturday for a place in the final for the first time at Flushing Meadows.
De Minaur will be disappointed with his maiden grand slam last-eight showing but must quickly pick up the pieces and turn his attention to the second major of the year, the rescheduled French Open starting on September 27.
The 21-year-old will be Australia's best hope on the Roland Garros clay after women's World No.1 Ashleigh Barty this week opted against defending her crown during the coronavirus pandemic.
De Minaur is projected to rise one spot in the rankings to World No.27 after bettering his career-best grand slam run by one round in New York.
He had hoped to go toe-to-toe with Thiem - and at times he did - but the baseline slugger and dual French Open finalist was too solid.
De Minaur was competitive early on, the pair trading three service breaks in the opening four games.
But he blew a golden opportunity to stay in the first set after allowing Thiem to hold from love-40 and surge ahead 4-1.
A third break secured Thiem the set before concerning cracks appeared in de Minaur's armour.
At 2-2 at 40-0 up in the second set, he dropped serve with two double-faults, then coughed up another double to slump behind 5-2.
No way out of that hole, de Minaur conceded six successive games as Thiem seized total command.
The never-say-die Australian No.1 made one last stand, breaking Thiem for a third time to level the third set at 4-4.
But the World No.3 struck back with a seventh service break of his own to comfortably progress to his sixth grand slam semi-final.
Journalist Joe Krishnan described Thiem’s play as “absurd”, while The Tennis Podcast’s Twitter account called it plain “rude”.
This is just absurd from Thiem, who gets wrong-footed by de Minaur and still manages to turn the backhand reach into a seemingly impossible lob.— Joe Krishnan (@joekrishnan) September 10, 2020
A champion's display.#USOpen
The tennis of Dominic Thiem tonight has been rude.— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) September 10, 2020
27yo Dominic Thiem just too big and too good today. Beats Alex De Minaur 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the #USOpen semifinals for the first time.— José Morgado (@josemorgado) September 10, 2020
His 6th career GS SF
AusOpen - 1 (2020)
Roland Garros - 4 (2016-19)
Wimbledon - 0#USOpen - 1 (2020)
Thiem is so good it’s absolutely insane. Nothing you can do on his shots man. Gonna be an unreal match tomorrow night.— Jackson Hurston (@the843balla) September 10, 2020
US Open favourite Medvedev into last four
Not only had Medvedev not dropped a set at this US Open entering his all-Russian quarter-final against long-time pal Andrey Rublev, but the third seed hadn’t allowed more than four games in any set.
So when Rublev grabbed a sizeable 5-1 lead and then 6-3 in the opening-set tiebreaker on Wednesday the moment felt momentous.
Turned out it was.
Medvedev fought off that trio of set-point chances for 10th seed Rublev in the tiebreaker by reeling off five points in a row and was on his way to a 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 7-6 (7-5) victory to return to the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows.
The only concern for Medvedev in the latter stages was whether his body would hold up - he was dealing with cramps and needed his right shoulder massaged by a trainer in the third set - but he did, indeed, hold on.
“It was tough and that was why maybe for the first time in almost a year I celebrated my win,” Medvedev, who let out a roar upon completing his win, said.
With Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal missing, and top seed Djokovic having been disqualified for hitting a line judge with a ball, Medvedev showed why he is now the bookmakers’ favourite.
He took 51 of 57 points when his first serve went in, never faced a break point and wound up with a 51-23 edge in total winners.
In all, through five matches, Medvedev has won 65 of his 68 service games.