It was midway through the second set and Daniil Medvedev was standing several feet behind the baseline, hand propped on one of his knees, his sweat turning his dark blue shirt several shades darker as he tried to catch his breath.
Hubert Hurkacz, on the other side at that moment, looked like he was having a day at the beach.
He won’t be No. 1 in the world when the Miami Open is over. He made sure Medvedev won’t be, either. Hurkacz, seeded eighth, moved two wins away from defending his Miami title by wearing down the top-seeded and cramp-riddled Medvedev 7-6 (7), 6-3 on Thursday in a men’s quarterfinal.
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“Every muscle just went ‘cramp, cramp, cramp, cramp,'" Medvedev said. “I was like a fish on the sofa."
Hurkacz had him flailing about much in the same way a fish on a sofa likely would be, provided, of course, that a fish ever had a reason to be on a sofa.
“I was returning pretty well, I was putting some pressure on his serves and that was helping my game,” Hurkacz said. “I was able to get some free points on my serve and that was pretty big.”
Had Medvedev prevailed, he would have overtaken Novak Djokovic on Monday and returned to No. 1 in the world rankings. Instead, the Russian will stay No. 2 in the world and find out who wins the Miami title on Sunday like everyone else.
“For me, it was more important in a way just to win the match itself than to become No. 1," Medvedev said. “Winning the match, I saw it more as a bonus."
Hurkacz, who is from Poland, will next meet either No. 14 Carlos Alcaraz of Spain or unseeded Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia in the semifinals. Kecmanovic and Alcaraz play in the last quarterfinal later Thursday.
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The other semifinal pits sixth-seeded Casper Ruud of Norway against unseeded Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina.
Hurkacz has played Medvedev four times, and Medvedev has been ranked No. 2 in the world in each of those meetings — which they’ve now split. Hurkacz improved to 14-5 this year, and his record in Miami is 12-1 all-time.
“Coming here is so much fun,” Hurkacz said.
The women's semifinals were also Thursday, with unseeded Naomi Osaka facing No. 22 seed Belinda Bencic and No. 16 Jessica Pegula taking on No. 2 Iga Swiatek — who will replace the now-retired Ashleigh Barty as No. 1 in the world on Monday.