Daniil Medvedev blames Hurkacz loss on ‘garbage balls’ as Djokovic remains world No 1

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Daniil Medvedev failed to take the chance to come out of the Sunshine Swing with the title of best male tennis player in the world after defeat to Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals of the Miami Open. The Russian lost in straight sets to the defending champion, pointing to “garbage” tennis balls as part of the reason for his defeat.

His loss in the last eight of the competition follows on from a shock third round defeat at the Indian Wells Masters earlier this month. Both tournaments were winnable for Medvedev, as the top seed, but he was unable to launch much of an assault on either title.

It means a missed opportunity for the Russian, as his rival for the top spot in the rankings was absent for both competitions. Novak Djokovic cannot enter the US due to rules for unvaccinated travellers, but Medvedev could not take advantage of the Serbian being unable to score any ranking points over the two tournaments.

His defeat in the Miami quarter-finals on Thursday saw him come up against the defending champion and a man who has excelled on US soil during his career. Hurkacz was dominant once again, even if he did make some uncharacteristic mistakes, on the way to a 7-6(7), 6-3 victory.

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Medvedev was far less comfortable, as he appeared to struggle with the heat and humidity in Florida throughout the match. He was forced to take a brief medical timeout in the second set, and spent much of the rest of the match hunched over and clutching his left knee.

He also complained about the “garbage” balls that were being used in the competition. He is not the first to make such a complaint, after Rafael Nadal declared that the balls used at Indian Wells earlier in the month were “not 100% fair on the strings”.

In the bigger picture, Medvedev’s failure to take the top spot in the rankings from Djokovic leaves him with work to do in the clay court season. It is far from the Russian’s favourite surface, however, piling extra pressure on him if he wants to take back the number one title as quickly as possible.

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Meanwhile, victory for Hurkacz took his career record for matches played in the US to 38-16. Compared to his figures for tournaments played everywhere else, 60-67, it is clear to see that the Pole enjoys the conditions across the Atlantic.

“My return was pretty crucial,” he said after the match. “I was aiming to make a lot of returns and also I was able to make a lot of free points on my serve. That was important because playing rallies with Daniil is fun but they get long so you want some free points!”

After learning he would meet either teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz or the unseeded giant-killer Miomir Kecmanovic in the next round, Hurkacz added: “[The conditions were] okay for me. I spend a lot of time in Florida so I’m used to the humidity. The conditions favoured me today.”

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