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By Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, March 18, 2023


Daniil Medvedev aced his eighth match point defeating Frances Tiafoe 7-5, 7-6(4) to score his 19th straight win and reach the Indian Wells final.

Photo credit: Mike Frey/Getty

Sending his opponent scurrying past the doubles alley, Frances Tiafoe finally had Daniil Medvedev right where he wanted him.

Or so it seemed.

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A stirring sideline-to-sideline spring saw Medvedev crack a running forward down the line that bended like a boomerang into the corner for an audacious winner.

Tested by a tough Tiafoe, Medvedev's movement, brilliant ball control and ridiculous racquet work turned twisting points into punch lines for his mischievous magic.

A patient Medvedev pumped an ace to convert his eighth match point subduing Tiafoe 7-5, 7-6(4) to extend his winning streak to 19 matches and charge into his maiden Indian Wells final.

"Wow," Medvedev wrote on the court-side camera lens afterward summing up the sentiments of many who saw this entertaining semifinal that saw Big Foe make a late burst before Medvedev closed the curtain on American hopes.

"It was a crazy match. I mean, the ending, tough," Medvedev said. "I still feel not stressed but like it's definitely better to win like 7-5, 6-3, because then you get the energy level down. That's fine. I know how to go through it, so that's not a problem.

"But still, always better to finish on your first match point and not on the eighth. But that's what makes tennis also a fun sport, and I'm just really happy that I managed not to lose this match and not to have regrets, nightmares, whatever."

Medvedev stamped seven love holds in this semifinal raising his 2023 record to 24-2 charging into his seventh Masters 1000 final.

During this dazzling 19-match winning streak merely taking a set from Medvedev is an achievement. The 27-year-old Russian is 38-5 in sets played during this winning streak and shows no signs of slowing down.

It is the fourth final for Medvedev since he fell to Sebastian Korda in straight sets in the third round of the Australian Open last January.

Tomorrow, the fifth-seeded Medvedev will play for his fourth consecutive championship and 19th career title against top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz in a clash of the current and former US Open champion.

The 19-year-old Alcaraz defeated 11th-seeded Jannik Sinner, 7-6(4), 6-3, in today's second semifinal.

Hall of Famer Rocket Rod Laver and pop star Pink were among the members of a packed crowd in stadium 1 eager to see if Tiafoe could top Medvedev for the first time in five meetings.

The 14th-seeded Tiafoe fought out of a love-40 hole playing five tremendous points to hold for 3-2.

Meanwhile, Medvedev was cruising through service holds.

A sloppy serve game from Tiafoe saw him clank a double fault and net a forehand to face another break point. Racing up to a short volley, Medvedev's forehand pass clipped the tape and bounded over as he broke for 6-5.

Medvedev served out the opening set at love when Tiafoe's forehand sailed long.

Oppressive on serve, Medvedev won 24 of 27 points played on his serve, snatching a one-set lead after 42 minutes.

Tiafoe tried to play the drop shot to exploit the 6'6" Russian's deep court positioning, but found the net more often than not with the dropper in the first set. 

The first set was done, but the Medvedev magic was only just beginning.

Dashing left to dig out an angled drive, Medvedev was completely off the court when he extended an exchange with a backhand get, turned and sprinted to the opposite sideline where he lifted a running forehand down the line that looked wide all the way until the ball remarkably curled into the court like a question mark dropping on the line at the last moment.

That mesmerizing running drive left Tiafoe shaking his head in disbelief and Medvedev sealing his second straight break to start the second set. Medvedev backed up the break with his fifth love hold of the day for a one-set, 2-0 lead.

Despite the high sun, Medvedev was scalding serve. The Dubai champion rolled through his fourth consecutive love hold for a 3-1 lead.

Serving at 3-5, Tiafoe dug in to deny a pair of match points. Medvedev belted a backhand pass for a third match point only to see Tiafoe save it.

Residual damage from opportunity lost cost Medvedev when he served for the final at 5-4. Tiafoe was moving with purpose drawing a netted error for break point. Medvedev, who had played such a clean match to that point, committed three errors in the 10th game double faulting the break back to Tiafoe who leveled after 10 games.

That spirited stand from the American inspired a massive roar from fans, including a guy dressed like Andre Agassi circa 1990, but Tiafoe stumbled trying to ride the wave of support.

A slew of errors put the US Open semifinalist down triple break point.

Swooping forward, Medvedev laced a forehand pass down the line jolting Tiafoe for the love break and a 6-5 lead.

Showing his toughness, Tiafoe saved three more break points to draw even at deuce from love-40 down. By then, the man from Maryland had saved six match points.

Jerking a forehand wide, Tiafoe gave the Russian a seventh match point.

Refusing to exit the stadium stage, Tiafoe tapped a forehand drop shot to save the seventh match point then played crush and rush on a return to earn a break point.

Showing daring and delicate touch, Tiafoe caressed a beautiful angled drop shot breaking for the second straight time to force the tiebreaker.

A fired-up Medvedev slammed a pair of aces and slashed a forehand dagger down the line for a 5-1 tiebreaker lead. As he'd done all day long, Tiafoe rallied right back hitting a clever drop volley winner that helped him close to 4-5.

Medvedev was in no mood to play the waiting game. Medvedev whipped a serve winner and then nailed his ninth ace to close in one hour, 46 minutes.  


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