Daniil Medvedev said physical struggles destroyed any chance of a victory to reclaim the world number one ranking on Friday after falling to Poland's Hubert Hurkacz 7-6 (9/7), 6-3 at the Miami Open.
Medvedev dropped to second with a third-round loss to Gael Monfils at Indian Wells last week, but would have taken back the top spot from Serbia's Novak Djokovic had he defeated Hurkacz, the defending Miami Open champion.
Instead, 10th-ranked Hurkacz advanced to the semi-finals by ousting the reigning US Open champion at Hard Rock Stadium and 20-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic stays number one.
Hurkacz, now 2-2 all-time against the Russian, faces Carlos Alcaraz for a place in Sunday's final after the 18-year-old Spanish sensation produced a scintillating display to beat 48th-ranked Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in three sets in one of the best matches of the tournament.
Medvedev said he found it hard to breathe at times and was cramping so badly in the locker room he was like "a fish on a sofa."
"All match, I wasn't feeling my best," Medvedev said. "After the tough points I was struggling to get my breath. I wasn't recovering fast enough. You just have to fight but in the second set I felt strange.
"I don't often feel like this but it happens sometimes when it's hot. Maybe it was the heat but I was feeling dizzy and tired and there was one game where I couldn't serve anymore. In the locker room I was cramping."
Medvedev called for medical trainers in the second set.
"The physio gave me something," he said. "You never know. You're hoping it will be like a magic thing but it doesn't always work like this."
Hurkacz played well, taking full advantage of Medvedev's struggles, which lasted well after he walked off the court.
"Normally I would just sit for a bit in the locker room but then I started cramping," he said. "I had a shower and felt a bit better. That was good advice because I was sitting down, was really tired and every muscle started going cramp, cramp, cramp. I was like a fish on the sofa.
"It's nothing serious. I'll wake up and probably be fine, but that's no good if I'm out of the tournament."
Medvedev was having trouble with his service games throughout – his first serve percentage was just 43% as he attempted to stay in the first set at 2-5 down, but there was hope when he broke back and managed to draw level at 5-5.
But he was unable to stem the tide as Hurkacz, whose serve was key, powered into the last four.
Osaka sets up Swiatek showdown
Naomi Osaka cried tears of joy after reaching the Miami Open final for the first time before her mind turned towards something else.
The Japanese star has ridden an emotional rollercoaster recently and after a heckler deeply upset her in Indian Wells, on Thursday night in south Florida Osaka couldn't keep the smile off her face.
A 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Olympic champion Belinda Bencic took the four-time Grand Slam champion into Saturday's final where she will meet the in-form, new world number Iga Swiatek – although picking up some dinner rather than lifting her first trophy since the 2021 Australian Open was occupying her thoughts more than anything.
"Unprofessional answer and professional answer, what I'm honestly thinking now is like how to get Korean food Uber Eats to my place, because there is nothing inside of the delivery range," smiled Osaka, who was visibly emotional at the end of her win.
"But in terms of the match, I'm glad I was able to pull through."
Osaka has been very open about her struggles with mental health which came to the fore last year at the French Open when she decided to leave the tournament after just one match and take some time away from tennis.
She sought help from a therapist in the aftermath of Indian Wells and the 24-year-old has cut a very relaxed and focused figure in Miami, enjoying life on and off the court, even though the Covid-19 pandemic has forced her to take solace in the shadows, at least for the time being.
"If I hadn't said anything at the French Open, I don't think anyone would have known about the things I was going through," said the quirky current world number 77.
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