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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, March 31, 2023

 
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Daniil Medvedev beat buddy Karen Khachanov 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3 to advance to his fifth consecutive final at the Miami Open.

Photo credit: Mike Frey/Getty

MIAMI—Daniil Medvedev launched the 2023 season seeking a new start.

The red-hot Medvedev continues to craft fierce finishes.

In a battle of childhood buddies, Medvedev conquered Karen Khachanov 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3 to advance to his fifth consecutive final and maiden Miami Open championship match.

"It feels great," Medvedev told Andrew Krasny afterward. "Today was one of the toughest matches in this five weeks...

"I feel like it was definitely top-level match, great serving, great rallies."

It's a momentous win for Medvedev, who improved to an ATP-best 28-3 in 2023, and will play for his fourth title on Sunday.




The former world No. 1 has now reached the finals of every ATP Masters 1000 hard-court event and both Grand Slam hard-court finals as well.

A confident Medvedev has won 23 of his last 24 matches with his lone loss in that span a 6-3, 6-2 defeat to Carlos Alcaraz in the Indian Wells final two weeks ago.

Playing for his first Masters 1000 crown since the 2021 Toronto, Medvedev will meet either world No. 1 Alcaraz or 10th-seeded Jannik Sinner in Sunday's final.

"Both of them are very tough and I I feel like they really put on a good show," Medvedev said. "I saw some of their matches.

"If you saw the highlights I'm sure it's going to be an amazing match."

Sluggish at the start, Medvedev was hit with a foot fault call, sprayed a forehand and immediately confronted double break point. Throwing down some heavy serves, the man in the crocodile shirt held firm to open.

Throughout the early stages of the opening set, Khachanov was holding with more confidence. The bearded Khachanov was running around his backhand hitting his inside-out forehand with zest

Yet throughout this tournament, we've seen Medvedev grow stronger as the matches progress. Today, Medvedev's consistent baseline ball control helped him bang out the break for 5-3.

Serving for the set, Medvedev scattered a forehand down the line wide as Khachanov broke back then leveled after 10 games.

In the opening set tiebreaker, Medvedev rapped a backhand winner down the line for the mini break and a 4-2 lead.

Digging in, Khachanov refused to wilt in the longest rally of the match that ended with Medvedev missing his trademark two-hander down the line as his childhood rival leveled the breaker, 4-4.

Working Medvedev corner to corner as if on a string, Khachanov drew the mid-court reply he wanted but flattened a forehand into net giving the Rotterdam champion double set point. When Khachanov floated a lob long, Medvedev had a one-set lead after 62 sweaty minutes.


It was the fifth tiebreaker Medvedev won against Khachanov in the five pro-level breakers they've played. 

The fourth seed left the court for a bathroom break. When he returned, Khachanov greeted him with a break and confirmation hold at love for a 3-0 second-set lead.

Holding his ground closer to the baseline, Khachanov extended his lead and seldom gave his buddy much time to operate. Khachanov hit six of his eight winners off his forehand to snatch the 39-minute second set with his second love hold of the set to force the decider.


The man wearing the backward baseball cap bellowed, ending the second set with a bang.  

Denying a break point to open the decider, Medvedev pumped his ninth ace for a 1-0 third-set lead.

Two hours into the match, Khachanov's shot-tolerance level dipped and Medvedev pounced. Three consecutive Khachanov unforced errors gave the fourth seed the crucial break and a 3-1 lead 20 minutes into the final set.

A mischievous Medvedev used the drop shot-lob combination platter to close the curtain after two hours, 17 minutes.

 

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