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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, November 17, 2023


Carlos Alcaraz swept Daniil Medvedev to win the Red Group and set up an ATP Finals semifinal vs. world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in a Wimbledon final rematch.

Photo credit: Stefano Guidi/Getty

The race for Turin title is firing up for pulsating photo finish.

A dynamic Carlos Alcaraz swept Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-4 with a bold all-court attack to win the Red Group and set up an ATP Finals dream semifinal against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in a rematch of their rousing Wimbledon final.

More: Djokovic on Nadal Comeback

“It was an amazing match for me,” Alcaraz told Tennis Channel’s Prakash Amritraj afterward. “Before the match and during the match, I’m really, really happy with the way I prepared the match. Mentally, physically, everything that I’ve done obviously I did a pretty good match serving so that helps.

“In this surface against a player like Daniil who puts every return in that was really important in the match. I’m really happy about it.”

The final four features the world’s top four facing off for what should be a fantastic semifinal weekend.

Tennis Express

Alcaraz out-dueled Djokovic in a Wimbledon classic and knows he must bring his best to beat the best.

"Well, it's one of the most difficult challenges that I'm going to face," Alcaraz said. "Facing Novak in the Nitto ATP Finals, a tournament that he has won six times, and obviously Novak is Novak.

"He's the best player in the world right now. He just lost six matches this year so that means that he is unbelievable. I'm going to put my best tennis and I'm going to enjoy." 

No. 3 Medvedev will meet fourth-ranked Jannik Sinner in Saturday’s other semifinal.

World No. 2 Alcaraz carried much more than his black-and-yellow Babolat bag on court today.

Holding Turin fate in his hands, Alcaraz did not hold back winning 20 of 25 trips to net, beating Medvedev to the punch powering to his maiden semifinal spot in the ATP Finals.

After his opening loss to Olympic gold-medal champion Alexander Zverev, Alcaraz said he experienced an epiphany: the court is so quick he realized he’s got to get back to the attack “hitting big bombs.” On this day: Alcaraz was Alcaraz again.

“This game is the game I’ve been playing the whole year so I got to think about it and I realize it’s the game I have to play,” Alcaraz said.

Confronting win-and-you’re-in pressure, Alcaraz answered with speed, variety and plenty of passion, improving to 65-11 on the season. Alcaraz avenged his four-set US Open semifinal loss to Medvedev last September to seize a 3-2 lead in their rivalry following his wins in the Indian Wells final in March and Wimbledon semifinals in July.

Master tactician Medvedev faced an intriguing choice in this match.

The subtext of this round-robin finale for both was if Medvedev won, he’d be Red Group champion and face world No. 1 Djokovic in tomorrow’s semifinal. And if he lost in straight sets, then Medvedev would play home hero and undefeated Green Group winner Jannik Sinner in the semis—and Alcaraz would seal a semifinal showdown with Djokovic.

If you’re Medvedev and know you’ve beaten Sinner in six of eight meetings while Djokovic is 10-5 lifetime against you, then the prospect of a semifinal showdown vs. the six-time tournament champion probably sounds as appealing as a cannoli-eating contest against a famished Joey Chestnut.

On the other hand, Sinner has beaten Medvedev twice in a row and will enjoy a full-house, wall of sound home support in the semifinals.

"The thing is that energy, when you know you are into something already happen, and you have one match more to play, it's not the same," Medvedev told the media in Turin. "At least me, for the moment, there are sometimes parts of tennis where I don't control the energy around myself. I try to do my best to control it as much as I can."

Today, Medvedev vowed to play the assertive first-strike style tennis he imposed dethroning defending US Open champion Alcaraz in the US Open semifinals last September.

True to his word, Medvedev came out with aggression, climbing out of love-30 down to hold for 2-1.

Creativity on the run makes Alcaraz a supreme shotmaker.

The second seed showed it with a sideline to sideline sprint, digging a low backhand out of one corner and streaking to the other sideline to sear a 90 mph forehand strike to open the seventh game with fireworks.

Rocked by that rocket, Medvedev was on his heels netting successive flat drives to face triple break point in a blur. Reading the wide serve, Alcaraz stepped in and stinging a backhand return winner down the line, sealing a stirring game with the love break, loud vamos and 4-3 lead in hand.

Down love-30 in the next game, Alcaraz pushed the big man back near the Torino sign then pulled the string on a forehand dropper. Alcaraz asserted his variety, running through four points in a row to back up the break for 5-3.

The squealing sound of Alcaraz’s tangerine-colored Nike shoes streaking across the court popped as he pumped a running backhand bolt to cap a 40-minute opener. Alcaraz’s speed around the court, explosiveness and courage to let it fly created an entertaining climax to the set and put him one set from securing a semifinal spot.

Midway through the second set, Alcaraz was down 15-30 when he made a daring sliding backhand drop volley—by then the Spaniard was 14 of 19 at net—drawing even at 30-all. Pounding away at the Russian’s forehand wing, Alcaraz swooped forward for a high forehand volley. Holding with a crackling first serve, Alcaraz bellowed “Vamos!” evening the set after eight games.

That was Medvedev’s last stand.

The third-set bungled a forehand swing volley to face double break point then sent his third double fault long gift-wrapping the break and a 5-4 lead to Alcaraz.

Serving for the semifinals, the 20-year-old Spaniard carved up the court with a slick serve-and-volley angle for triple match point. When Medvedev’s final shot sailed, Alcaraz leaned back and bellowed "Vamos! Vamos! Vamos!" showing some of his sharpest tennis—and deepest desire—since he out-dueled Djokovic in the Wimbledon final.

(2) Carlos Alcaraz d. (3) Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-4

Key Stat

Alcaraz won 20 of 25 trips to net, 10 of 15 second-serve points and hit countless highlight reel shots.

Turning Point
Unleashing a rocket running forehand, Alcaraz opened the seventh game with a statement shot sparking a love break and 4-3 lead.

What this win means for Alcaraz
Welcome to your maiden ATP Finals semifinal Carlitos. Alcaraz improves to 11-5 vs. Top 10 opponents in 2023 setting up a blockbuster Wimbledon final rematch vs. Djokovic.

What this loss means for Medvedev
Sometimes you can lose the battle and still win the war. If you’re Medvedev, you would likely rather take your shot at Sinner and the more than 12,000 screaming Italian fans and assorted Carota boys than tangling with eight-time year-end No. 1 Djokovic for a potential marathon semifinal.

What the result means for us
A time to celebreate tennis fandom. The final four featuring the world's top four facing off in the final ATP tournament of this season before a festive fan base eager to see the first Italian champion in tournament history makes for a buzzworthy and blockbuster weekend. Enjoy!


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