Atlanta native Eubanks' magical Wimbledon ends with a loss to Daniil Medvedev

Christopher Eubanks of the US gestures to the crowd after losing to Russia's Daniil Medvedev in their men's singles match on day ten of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Chris Eubanks finally ran out of aces and energy during his magical Wimbledon debut. The 27-year-old American who captivated the crowds at the All England Club and back home still seemed to be having the time of his life Wednesday, but Daniil Medvedev’s steady game was just too much to overcome.

Basking in the roars from the stands at No. 1 Court, Eubanks grabbed a two-sets-to-one lead against the 2021 U.S. Open champion — and then was four points from victory in the fourth. The wear-and-tear of the unseeded Eubanks’ deepest run, by far, at a Grand Slam tournament began to show from there, and Medvedev pulled away for a 6-4, 1-6, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1 victory to reach the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time.

If Medvedev was unsteady for a bit, perhaps distracted by a back-and-forth with the chair umpire over a stray ball that struck a TV camera operator, he gathered himself well.

“There was a moment in the match where I completely lost the, how to say, game itself, and he played well. I started to sink. I started to do a lot of mistakes. Not serving well enough,” said the No. 3-seeded Medvedev, who will face No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz in the semifinals on Friday. “In the third set, I started to build something. … From the tiebreak, I started to play amazing.”

Alcaraz’s 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 6 Holger Rune at Centre Court was the first men’s quarterfinal at Wimbledon in the Open era, which dates to 1968, with two players who are not yet 21. Both Spain’s Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open, and Denmark’s Rune are 20.

When Alcaraz smacked a backhand return winner to seal the first set, he threw threw his head back and screamed. He paused for a second and screamed again. He strutted to the sideline, head held high, and yelled, then got to the sideline and yelled “Vamos! Vamos!”

In the women’s quarterfinals, Ons Jabeur eliminated defending champion Elena Rybakina 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-1 in a rematch of last year’s championship match, and reigning Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka defeated No. 25 seed Madison Keys 6-2, 6-4.

No. 2 Sabalenka plays No. 6 Jabeur on Thursday, when the other semifinal will be between unseeded players Elina Svitolina and Marketa Vondrousova. None of the four remaining women has won Wimbledon; Sabalenka is the only one who already owns a major trophy.

Sabalenka, who is from Belarus, and Medvedev, who is from Russia, were banned from the All England Club a year ago, along with every player representing those two countries, over the invasion of Ukraine. The war continues, but Russians and Belarusians were allowed back this time.

In Eubanks-Medvedev everything started to tilt one way midway through the fourth-set tiebreaker.

Eubanks put a forehand in a corner that drew a netted backhand from Medvedev, making it 3-all. Many in the seats rose, cheering wildly, and Eubanks shook his right fist, staring toward the support.

Maybe Eubanks, who is from Atlanta and was a college All-American at Georgia Tech, enjoyed that moment just a tad too much. Maybe he let his focus slip. Then again, hard to blame a guy who came into this tournament with a career record of 2-8 at the majors and who never had won an ATP title until the week before Wimbledon began.

So close to moving on, Eubanks faltered. So close to the brink, Medvedev surged, taking four of the following five points and pushing things to a fifth set.

Medvedev smacked a forehand winner. Eubanks sailed a forehand wide. Eubanks pushed a forehand return long. After Eubanks saved one set point with a service winner, he ceded the next by flubbing a forehand volley.

Medvedev, who won 28 of the 30 points he served in that set, shook his racket. He was fully back in the match — and, it turned out, on his way to a win.

As big a server as the lanky, 6-foot-7 Eubanks is, Medvedev hit more aces, 28-17. And while Eubanks finished with more winners, 74-52, to raise his tournament total to 321 and break Andre Agassi’s 1992 mark for most winners at a single Wimbledon (since 1977), Medvedev played incredibly cleanly. He only made 13 unforced errors, 42 fewer than Eubanks.

When the match ended, when Eubanks’ wonderful ride was over, he was accompanied off toward the locker room by a loud and lengthy standing ovation — as his pal, 2022 French Open runner-up Coco Gauff, captured the scene with her phone camera.

Eubanks paused his walk. He turned to all sections of the arena to wave and then put his hands together overhead in the shape of a heart, soaking it all in.