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By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, March 30, 2021

 
Daniil Medvedev

Top-seeded Daniil Medvedev topped Frances Tiafoe 6-4, 6-3 advancing to his seventh career Masters 1000 quarterfinal at the Miami Open.

Photo credit: Mark Brown/Getty

 

Staggered by leg cramps in his last match, Daniil Medvedev high-stepped into the Miami Open quarterfinals for the first time today.

The top-seeded Russian reeled off three games in a row defeating Frances Tiafoe 6-4, 6-3 advancing to his seventh career Masters 1000 quarterfinal.

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Medvedev fired 11 aces and saved two of three break points beating Tiafoe for the fourth time in as many meetings.




A big question surrounding this match: How would the 6'6" Russian physically recover after withstanding punishing cramps and a powerful Alexei Popyrin 7-6(3), 6-7(7), 6-4 in a dramatic and gutsy Miami Open triumph 48 hours ago?

The world No. 2 responded with resilience. And by the end of this one hour, 32-minute match it was Tiafoe, drained after coming back from a set down in each of his wins over Stefano Travaglia, Dan Evans and Dusan Lajovic, who was reeling a bit suffering from an apparent upset stomach.

The Australian Open finalist, who dropped just five games to Medvedev in a US Open round of 16 sweep last summer, is comfortable in this match because he knows what's coming and does everything a bit better than Tiafoe, who fell to 3-22 vs. Top 10 opposition.

"As we saw Frances wasn't 100 percent physically," Medvedev told Tennis Channel's Prakash Amritraj afterward. "He had a tough match two days ago. For sure, the game plan was to try to make points faster, but the courts are quite slow here.

"Our game matches up we both like to make backhand cross. So then how do you make a winner if you both play backhand cross? And that's why there were a lot of long rallies."

At the outset, Tiafoe was using his slice backhand frequently seemingly trying to extend Medvedev and test the Russian's legs.

Medvedev's mobility and skill maneuvering the ball around the court were on display. The top seed scraped his right knee bending low to pick a shot off the hard court drawing blood as he held for 5-4.

In the 10th game, Tiafoe, who has been working with coaches Wayne Ferreira and Zack Evenden on streamlining his forehand swing, lost the range on that wing. Sending a couple of forehands into the net put Tiafoe in a set point bind.

On the 11th shot of the ensuing rally, Tiafoe sailed a forehand donating the break and the set to the top seed in 43 minutes.

The Medvedev serve was the key stroke in the set: he won 12 of 13 first-serve points and 20 of 24 serve points overall snatching a one-set lead.

Untouchable on serve in the opening set, Medvedev blinked in the second set. The top seed's second double fault gifted the break and a 2-1 second-set lead to Tiafoe.

The sweat-soaked American, apparently suffering from indigestion, incurred a time violation warning as he tried to collect himself. Tiafoe, who told the chair umpire he was having trouble breathing in the thick, humid air, wasn't serving with his typical vigor and sent a weary shot into net to give the break right back.

Meanwhile Medvedev was looking and playing like Medvedev holding for 3-2. Tiafoe took a medical timeout on the ensuing changeover and was given some tablets.

The 58th-ranked American got a bit of a second wind as the set progressed but Medvedev quieted every threat.

Serving-and-volleying on a break point, the American could only watch as Medvedev snapped a clean backhand return winner down the line breaking for 5-3.

Medvedev torched his 11th ace to close it raising his 2021 record to 17-2.

 Tennis Express

Continuing his hunt for his 11th career title and second in a row, the Marseille champion will face familiar nemesis Roberto Bautista Agut for a semifinal spot.

Bautista Agut saved a match point at 5-6 in the tie breaker firing a forehand winner and that shot sparked him to a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(7) triumph over 2018 champion John Isner. Four American men reached the Miami round of 16 for the first time since 2004. Isner, Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz all fell leaving 20-year-old Sebastian Korda as the lone American man still standing.

World No. 12 Bautista Agut has won four of five sets vs. Medvedev, including a 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory in the Western & Southern Open quarterfinals played in New York last August. 

"He's an amazing player," Medvedev said of the former Wimbledon semifinalist. "I feel like sometimes when I practice with him or I see him play I am surprised by his ranking that he was never like Top 5 or something or getting further in the Slams.

"But there must be a reason for this so I am going to try this reason tomorrow. He's an amazing player so it's definitely going to be a tough match with a lot of long rallies." 

 

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