Ailing Ebden lauded by Medvedev after loss

·3-min read

Matt Ebden's magnificent recent run has come to the most unfortunate end in Marseille as the Australian was forced to retire during the Open 13 Provence semi-final against world No.3 Daniil Medvedev.

But the Perth stalwart could at least take some consolation from the high praise offered to him by Australian Open finalist Medvedev after he had to admit defeat to injury on Saturday.

The West Australian had needed a medical timeout away from the court with a leg injury after dropping serve to go 4-5 down in Saturday's opening set at the Palais des sports de Marseille.

He was clearly struggling to move freely on his return and, after 58 minutes play, decided he couldn't go on as Medvedev started to steamroller him and raced into a 6-4 3-0 lead.

After a dejected walk to the net to shake hands, Ebden received a sympathetic response from Medvedev, who will be elevated to the world's No.2 ranking next week whatever happens in Sunday's final against France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

"Bad timing to hurt my leg in the first set today. Thanks to our awesome physios for giving me the best chance. Hoping to recover fast in the next few days for Dubai," tweeted Ebden later.

Medvedev offered his sympathy, saying: "I feel really sorry for him, hopefully he can recover fast and it's nothing serious.

"Before this injury, it was a close match. He was getting close to breaking me at 0-40 (in the seventh game of the first set), so really unfortunate to end the match like this.

"He's a tough opponent to play, he does serve and volley, he plays no rhythm."

It was a real anti-climax for Ebden, who had battled so well through five matches, in qualifying and the main draw, to reach his first ATP tour semi-final for three years.

But perhaps the physical toll of a hard week and plenty of recent globetrotting began to tell on a 33-year-old who didn't have a single competitive match in COVID-hit 2020.

The world no.287 was the lowest-ranked semi-finalist in the tournament's history but still gave Medvedev plenty to worry about in the opening set, going on the attack and regularly serving-and-volleying to put the No.1 seed on the back foot.

But Medvedev took his chance to convert his third break point in the key ninth game and after Ebden had his medical break, the Russian served out to love to seal the 40-minute set.

Remarkably, Ebden had recovered sufficiently later on Saturday to compete with compatriot Matt Reid in the doubles semi-final but, hardly surprisingly, they went down 6-2 6-3 to Briton Lloyd Glasspool and Finland's Harri Heliovaara.

Medvedev, seeking his first singles title of the season, will face doubles specialist Herbert in the behind-closed-doors final and admitted: "A final against a French guy in Marseille with a crowd would be not an easy challenge."

Herbert beat fourth seed Ugo Humbert 6-3, 6-2 with surprising ease in 65 minutes as he homes in on his first tour-level singles crown.