The first Masters event of 2023 will go to one of the last two US Open champions, Carlos Alcaraz or Daniil Medvedev. One of them will also win their very first Indian Wells title.
Medvedev began the semifinal day upping his win streak to 19 holding off a late charge from Frances Tiafoe 7-5, 6-4(7-4). And he did it on his eighth match point!
“Really happy to win, for sure,” Medvedev said. “It was a crazy match. I mean, the ending, tough. 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. Happy to be in the final and looking forward for tomorrow.”
Medvedev was dominant early dropping just three total points on serve in the first set. Tiafoe who saved break points earlier, finally bent to the pressure of Medvedev.
The Russian kept it going to start the second, breaking Tiafoe with a scintillating forehand winner down the line. It looked over at that point. Things would change. After missing match points on Tiafoe’s serve, Medvedev had a chance to serve for it but Tiafoe rose up to grab a stunning break thanks to a double fault.
Tiafoe’s hopes wouldn’t last long as Medvedev promptly and then served for it at 6-5, 40-0. But again, the former No. 1 — perhaps echoing back to his 2022 Australian Open choke — failed to close it.
In the breaker, Medvedev got up 5-1 before Tiafoe made things interesting. However, Medvedev rode his serve to the win.
Medvedev improves to a perfect 5-0 in tour-level head-to-head encounters with Tiafoe. He’s into his 31st career final, 7th at the Masters level. He’ll seek his 19th title tomorrow and 4th straight tournament win.
Tiafoe came into his first Masters semifinal having not lost a set, and showed guts saving those seven match points late.
Carlos Alcaraz followed and the teen didn’t disappoint turning away Jannik Sinner 7-6(7-4), 6-3.
“I feel great,” Alcaraz said. “This is a tournament that I love playing. I have great memories, my first semifinal for a Masters 1000 here against Rafa. It was really special for me. Coming back this year and making final is really special moment for me.”
Alcaraz got an early break before Sinner level to stay alive. However, after saving a set point, Alcaraz took the breaker and then broke in Sinner’s first service game in the second.
“It was a tough moment for me,” Alcaraz said of letting his first set break slip away. “I didn’t make the right things. I’d say it was everything too fast and, yeah, in that moment you have to be slow, think well, and it wasn’t my case.
“I think at that point the match, it was close. You know, I think he started to play better. I was fighting against myself.”
Alcaraz has now won three of five tour-level head-to-head clashes against the Italian, and all three on hard courts.
“I think the general match was high level match, but still I didn’t serve well today, which made the biggest difference, I think,” Sinner said. “The baseline rallies I felt okay, I had my chances, especially first set. But he played the important points better than me today, so he deserved to win.”
Alcaraz makes his 11th career final and third at the Masters level, He is seeking his 8th career title tomorrow and third at the Masters level.
Also at stake for Alcaraz is a return to the No. 1 ranking. He’s now just two sets away.
“Well, I will try not to think about that, just to, as I said, just to think about the things that I have to do,” Alcaraz said. “Tomorrow I would say gonna be a really tactic match against Daniil. Is gonna be really tough. I have to make, let’s say, everything perfect. That’s all I’m gonna think tomorrow.”
Alcaraz and Medvedev have met just once before with Medvedev coming out ahead in the second round at Wimbledon in 2021.
“He’s a wall,” Alcaraz said of Medvedev. “He return every ball, impossible shots. I talk with my team that the returns are almost, you know, in the corner of the court and still winning the points.
“He’s an amazing runner, he’s an amazing player. I probably hit my best shots to, you know, hit winners against him.”
Added Medvedev of Alcaraz: “He’s amazing. He has amazing skills which are tough to compare to everyone, I would think maybe to Rafa, but it’s tough to compare because Rafa is lefty, so you cannot really compare their ball. Once he hits through the forehand, it’s amazing to watch. I don’t think there is anyone who can hit this strong and also with topspin.
“That’s why he was No. 1 in the world, youngest No. 1 in the history. That means something. It’s gonna be great and fun to play against him if he manage to close out the match.”
SUNDAY INDIAN WELLS SCHEDULE
Matches Start At: 1:00 pm
Aryna Sabalenka vs Elena Rybakina (KAZ)
Not Before 4:00 pm
Daniil MEDVEDEV vs Carlos ALCARAZ (ESP)
You Might Like:
Streaking Medvedev Weekend Favorite At Indian Wells; Alcaraz v Sinner Rematch
Sinner Sinks Fritz To Reach Indian Wells SFs; Alcaraz Gets First Win Against FAA
Medvedev, Rublev Win Indian Wells Openers; Murray-Alcaraz, Zverev-Brooksby Today
Alcaraz Stops Medvedev For Indian Wells Title, Third Masters Crown, Returns To No. 1
Alcaraz Edges Kecmanovic In Thriller To Reach Miami Masters SF; Medvedev Out
Looking for a very good final. Both guys sure earned their spots. Daniil is back to his top tennis and Tiafoe gave him a fight. While Sinner is such a good young athlete and player he forced Alcaraz into god mode. They played certain points to wild standing ovations.
Alcaraz wins, he is #1 again. He loses, Djokovic stays #1 until Monte Carlo, at least.
And the women have two 6′ Glamazons fighting.
March 19th, 2023 at 2:39 am