Substitute Daniil Medvedev quelled a late attack from Frances Tiafoe to beat the American 7-5, 7-6 (7 from 4) on Saturday and reach the Indian Wells final for the first time.
Sixth-placed Medvedev, who won ATP titles in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai in three weeks, extended his winning streak to 19 games and is awaiting the winner of the other semi-final between top-seeded Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz and 13th-placed Italian Jannik Sinner.
Alcaraz, 19, and Sinner, 21, are 2-2 in four previous encounters, but it was Alcaraz who prevailed in his most dramatic clash – a five-set US Open quarterfinal that lasted five hours 15 minutes, it’s 2:50 a.m., the last in US Open history.
Alcaraz would lift the trophy and become the youngest world number one in the history of the rankings.
Medvedev, who had never progressed past the fourth round of the combined WTA and ATP Masters 1000 event in the California desert, had a firm grip on much of the hour and 46-minute competition.
But he needed eight match points to oust Tiafoe in 16th place and eventually secured the win with his ninth ace of the day.
“In the end it was crazy,” said Medvedev. “I got super tight. I would say that (after) 6-5, 40-0 I think I got tight at Deuce when I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s a lot of missed chances. This might not go well for me.’
“The ace was a relief,” he added. “I’m just very happy that I managed not to lose this match.”
Medvedev, who showed no signs of trouble with the right ankle he twisted in a fourth-round win over Alexander Zverev, was patience personified as he wore down Tiafoe in the opener.
Tiafoe had reached his first Masters 1000 semi-final without dropping a set, but Medvedev thwarted every attempt to break serve, winning 24 of his 27 serve points in the opening frame.
In a match that featured metronomic rallies, Tiafoe blinked first and fell back 0-40 in game five, only to roar back by five straight points.
But Medvedev suddenly broke through in game 11, another backhand from Tiafoe netting him a break point which Medvedev converted with a forehand over the net to end another rally.
Break in hand, he pocketed the set with a love match.
Medvedev quickly got the better of it in the second, breaking Tiafoe in the opening game with a forehand winner that curled back into the sidelines as he fell.
– I can not complain –
It wasn’t until game six that Tiafoe was finally able to put some real pressure on Medvedev’s serve, the Russian saving the first break point he faced.
Leading 5-3, Medvedev had three chances in the ninth game to win the match on Tiafoe’s serve and after failing to convert he was broken for the first time on a sloppy serve with three unforced errors – including a double fault on the break point .
Undeterred, he broke love to Tiafoe in the next game, but the American again refused to concede, surviving four more match points en route to a break of serve to force the tie break.
Medvedev, who also required treatment for a cut thumb after falling in his semi-final win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, said his difficulties this week, particularly his ankle injury, have helped him focus and his dislike for the slow places of Forget Indian Wells.
“It’s still not my favorite conditions to play (but) when you’re in the final you can’t complain,” he said.
Source : sports.yahoo.com