I believe it was the great Buster Poindexter who once sang, “Me mind on fire, me soul on fire” in his seminal 1987 classic “Hot Hot Hot,” and it was a similar sort of delirium that seemingly set in on Daniil Medvedev as faced Fabio Fognini on Wednesday. Stumbling off court after losing the second set sans shirt and shoes, the No. 2-seeded Russian appeared unequivocally broken after a marathon eighth game, one that left him asking umpire Carlos Ramos who would be responsible if the brutal combination of Tokyo’s heat and humidity conspired and combined to kill him.
"I can finish the match but I can die," Medvedev pleaded. "If I die, are you going to be responsible?"
Sufficiently cooled off from the set break, Medvedev somehow redirected his fire towards an equally overheated Fognini to outlast the Italian, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 and reach the 2020 Tokyo Olympics quarterfinals. Ole, ole!
Medvedev’s return to his beloved hard courts was always going to feel like a warm hug after a tragicomic 12 weeks traversing clay courts and grass, but the 25-year-old clearly didn’t expect temperatures approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit in his Olympic debut. Narrowly avoiding a three-setter against Kazakh rival Alexander Bublik, the two-time Grand Slam runner-up next breezed past Sumit Nagal to book a third-round clash with a No. 15 seed whom he’d beaten in their last three matches.