Medvedev battles heat to stay on track for Djokovic showdown


TOKYO: Daniil Medvedev (pic) struggled with the heat in Tokyo before battling through to the quarter-finals of the Olympics, staying on course for a heavyweight clash with Novak Djokovic.

The Russian second seed defeated Italy’s Fabio Fognini 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to set up a last-eight meeting with Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain at Ariake Tennis Park.

Two-time Grand Slam runner-up Medvedev, who had urged organisers to delay start times after his opening match, again found the temperatures testing as the extreme weather policy was implemented.

“Even from the first set I didn’t feel good enough with my breathing. I felt like my diaphragm was blocked, I couldn’t breathe properly,” said Medvedev.

Asked by the umpire if he was OK during the second set, the Russian replied: “I can finish the match, but I can die. If I die, who will take responsibility?”

“I think it was the most humid day we had so far, maybe the hottest,” added Medvedev.

“The sun was pretty hot. At the end of the second set I just had darkness in my eyes.”

Djokovic’s Golden Slam bid is alive and well. The top-ranked Serb beat training partner Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain 6-3, 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals.

Djokovic is attempting to become the first man to achieve a Golden Slam by winning all four Grand Slam tournaments and Olympic gold in the same calendar year.

He has already won the Australian and French Opens plus Wimbledon this year. So now he needs the Tokyo games title and the US Open trophy to complete the unique collection.

Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, the highest-ranked player left in the women’s draw, reached the semi-finals with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Camila Giorgi of Italy.

“You know when you are higher ranked, everyone wants to beat you and everyone is extremely motivated to beat you,” said Svitolina.

“The Olympics is a very special event. In Ukraine, it’s very big, even bigger than a Grand Slam.

“I’m really focused on any medal, try to be ready for anything that comes my way and try to be prepared for the conditions, for any opponents, and try to bring back the medal.”

The fourth seed will play Marketa Vondrousova, the conqueror of home favourite Naomi Osaka, for a place in the final in Tokyo. — AFP

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