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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Thursday, February 29, 2024


Daniil Medvedev rolled through eight straight games topping Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2, 6-3 score his eighth straight Dubai win and reach the semifinals.

Photo credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty

Daniil Medvedev is dialing up his game in the desert.

Defending Dubai champion Medvedev rolled through eight straight games dispatching Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2, 6-3 scoring his eighth straight Dubai win to reach the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semifinals.

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The three-time Australian Open finalist is the first top seed to reach the Dubai semifinals since Novak Djokovic in 2020.

“Yeah, Alejandro can play very well,” Medvedev said after a 77-minute victory. “Sometimes during matches he can have little down moments and then he goes up.

“So I knew that no matter the score I needed to go until the last point. The second set, at one point, got a bit tighter. I managed to stay there, win some more games and it was enough to win today.”

The victory vaults Medvedev into his sixth semifinal in his last eight events.

Medvedev is the first top seed to reach the Dubai final four since Novak Djokovic in 2020.

Growing sharper round-by round, Medvedev improved to 9-1 on the season.

World No. 4 Medvedev will play Marseille champion Ugo Humbert for a spot in Saturday's final.

A determined Humbert fought off three match points in the tiebreaker topping third-seeded Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-3 in a two hour, 24-minute battle that saw French fans chanting "Ugo! Ugo!" 

"It was a great battle. I tried to fight every point," Humbert said. "At the end of the tiebreaker I saved three match points. I tried to give my best and they give me a lot of energy to take the win so thank you to all the French fans, thank you so much guys, merci beacoup."

The left-handed Frenchman has beaten Medvedev in two of their three meetings.  

"It will be a great challenge against Daniil," Humbert said. "We played a couple of times and it was always a great fight. I need to rest a little bit to be ready for tomorrow."

After toiling three sets to defeat Lorenzo Sonego yesterday, Medvedev was sharper on serve and looked more energized today charging into his 52nd career Tour semifinal.

“I was feeling better. I don’t know what happened yesterday,” Medvedev said. “Some people around me got a small virus so maybe it was this, Some days like this happens. I’m happy today was better. Not in my best shape yet but we have some more matches.”

The 28-year-old Medvedev is two wins away from defending a title for the first time in his accomplished career.

“I’m definitely playing better,” Medvedev said. “I’m having less pain with every match so that helps to play better.

“You think less about it, go more full on many different occasions. I’m really looking forward to the semis because the further you go the tougher the opponents. They’re gonna play now. I’m going to enjoy the match and get ready for the winner.”

Exploiting the champion’s deep return position, Davidovich opened the fourth game with successive drop shots and closed with a slick serve-and-volley winner, leveling after four games.

On a windy night, Medvedev struggled to tame his shots in a sloppy start to the fifth game.

A rash of errors put the Russian in a triple break point hole. Medvedev locked in and saved all three break points, benefitting from a backhand that crashed into the tape and plopped over, and closing a five point run with another fortuitous net cord and forehand pass. That resourceful magic helped Medvedev hold for 3-2.

It was a gritty hold that sparked an eight-game surge.

Down 15-30 in the following game, the Spaniard tried the underhand serve. Medvedev was not fooled and won the ensuing rally for double break point. Davidovich Fokina, who brain-cramped deploying the under hand serve vs. Holger Rune in a heart-breaking Wimbledon loss last year, went to the drop shot again. Medvedev ran it down then poked a forehand volley breaking for 4-2.

Tennis Express

The top seed zapped his second ace, closing a confident hold to confirm for 5-2 after 31 minutes.

Turning defense to offense, Medvedev drilled a bounces smash for set point. The Spaniard went to the serve and volley again but was handcuffed by the return the botched the volley.

Medvedev ripped through four games in a row for a one-set lead after 36 minutes.

A dialed in Medvedev reeled off eight of the first 10 points of the second set, scoring his third consecutive service break and sixth game in a row, for a 2-0 lead.

Davidovich Fokina stopped his eight-game slide, finding the line to break back for 1-4.

Digging in from love-40 down, Davidovich Fokina saved all three break points dipping a backhand drop shot that helped confirm the break for 2-4.

Overcoming the wind and speedy Spanish opponent, Medvedev served it out at 15 to secure a spot in his second straight Dubai semifinal.

Earlier, 2023 finalist Andrey Rublev raced into his fourth consecutive Dubai semifinal.

The second-seeded Rublev led 6-4, 4-3 when Korda pulled the plug, shaking the Russian’s hand and patting him on the shoulder.

The 2022 champion Rublev said a chaotic wind made conditions tough.

“First of all I didn’t know that he was suffering,” said Rublev, who raised his 2024 record to 14-3. “It’s always tough to finish matches like that. So I wish Sebastian fast recovery, I hope there is nothing serious.

“I think the match was tricky because it was very windy and both of us were suffering, we don’t really feel the ball with the sun and the shadow also you don’t really see the ball. And the wind at the same time it was not very clean and good tennis, but sometimes it happens. We were trying to give our best in the end I was able to take it.”

The day’s first quarterfinal also ended with a seconds-et retirement.

Alexander Bublik led Jiri Lehecka 6-4, 4-1 when the Czech retired.

World No. 23 Bublik is now 6-1 in ATP quarterfinals since the start of the 2023 season.

“I think this surface fits well to him because it’s quite fast; the flat shots working well here the drop shots,” Rublev said of Bublik. “So he likes all these things he has really good feelings for this. So I think this surface fits well for him.

"I hope I also play well on this surface if you see my past results. So we’ll see what is going to happen tomorrow.”


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