Alcaraz sets desert duel with Medvedev with No. 1 at stake
Former world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev will battle it out for their first ATP Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells after back-to-back semi-final victories on Saturday.
Second-placed Spaniard Alcaraz, the best seed that can return to the top with a third Masters 1000 title on Sunday, defeated 13th-placed Italian Yannick Sinner 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 and out to their third final in 2023. .
After the start of the season was delayed due to injury, Alcaraz won the title in Buenos Aires and reached the final in Rio de Janeiro last month.
Meanwhile, Medvedev is on a 19-match ATP winning streak and is in contention for his fourth title in as many tournaments after victories in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai.
The sixth-place Russian, who never made it past the fourth round at Indian Wells, survived the late onslaught of Frances Tiafoe to triumph 7-5, 7-6 (7/4) over the 16th-place American.
Controlling most of the match, it took Medvedev eight match points to finally score with an ace at the last opportunity.
“I’m just very glad that I managed not to lose this match and not have regrets, nightmares, whatever,” Medvedev said.
Alcaraz, who beat Sinner in an epic five-set game en route to the US Open title last year, got the better of the Italian with an early break in the first set but fought him off with a sloppy four-man game. unforced errors and allowed Sinner to level the score at 4-4.
When Alcaraz suddenly began to struggle, Sinner held on to 5-4 and stepped up the pressure to set the score at 6-5, which Alcaraz saved with a shot followed by a game-winning volley.
An elated Alcaraz went through the tiebreak to end the set with a game-winning lefthander and broke Sinner in the second game of the second set, sealing the gap with a superb cross.
At 4-2, Alcaraz broke the 0-30 stalemate with three consecutive non-returns and ended it with a solid game that he started from the back and finished with a thunderous winning right hand.
“Playing against Yannick is never easy,” Alcaraz said. “I knew I had to level up. In the first set it was very close.
“On the second, I calmed my nerves, played more relaxed, and (that) was the key to everything.”
Alcaraz was looking forward to meeting the hot Medvedev.
“I am an ambitious guy,” he said. “I want to play against the best players in the world and I would say Daniel is the best player right now.
“Amazing winning streak – it will be a difficult challenge, but I’m ready for it.”
– crazy ending –
The recruited Medvedev was in control for most of the match, showing no signs of trouble with his right ankle, which he sprained in the fourth round defeating Alexander Zverev.
Tiafoe reached his first Masters 1000 semi-final without dropping a set, but Medvedev held him back in the opening set, winning 24 of 27 innings.
After failing to convert three break points in Game 5, Medvedev suddenly broke into the 11th, another backhand into the net from Tiafoe gave him a chance, which Medvedev converted with a right hand.
Medvedev quickly gained the upper hand in the second, breaking Tiafoe in the first game with a winning right hand that fell back to the touchline as it fell.
At 5-3, Medvedev had three chances to win the match on Tiafoe’s serve in the ninth game, and after failing to convert, he lost for the first time on a sloppy serve with three unforced errors, including a double fault on a breakpoint.
Undeterred, he smashed Tiafoe in love in the next game, but the American again refused to concede, surviving four more match points on his way to an innings break to force a tie-break.
“It was crazy at the end,” Medvedev said. “I got very tight. I would say that (after) 6-5, 40-0, I think I got tight on a deuce when I thought, “Oh my God, so many missed opportunities. This might not have gone well. for me.'”