The first semi-final of this year’s Indian Wells Masters was settled on Wednesday with both Frances Tiafoe and Daniil Medvedev securing their places at the expense of Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Cameron Norrie.
At the end, it got a little tricky, but it was pretty one-way traffic and I am really happy with where my game is at. It’s great, but it’s the semis,. The job’s not done. Frances Tiafoe
First through to the last four was Tiafoe who brought to an end Norrie’s current run of consecutive wins at eight as he edged the Briton 6-4 6-4 after 99-minutes on court.
The American didn’t have it all his own way but fortune smiled on him at critical moments as the British No.1 started well before rain spoilt his concentration by suspending play twice in the second game with Tiafoe struggling with his serve which he eventually held.
The next four games were also shared with Norrie clearly stronger as far as serving was concerned but then, with Tiafoe’s forehand finding its range, he broke in the seventh game which proved decisive as far as the opening set was concerned.
The 14th seed carried his momentum through into the second by claiming his opponent’s opening serve but was broken back immediately as the quarter final became patchy.
As Norrie struggled, Tiafoe stepped up his intensity and was striking the ball well as he broke his opponent again, this time to lead 3-2, gaining a double break when Norrie made an error with his backhand on game point in the seventh game.
With Tiafoe pumping his fist furiously on reaching the finishing line, he stepped up to serve it out only to find that Norrie had other ideas.
The Brit broke back but was unable to stop the American’s second attempt at crossing the line which he duly did to make his first semi-final at Masters level and his first last four appearance this season.
“Today my serving was pretty up and down because it was windy,” Tiafoe, who hasn’t dropped a set throughout the event, said after the match.
“When I’m at my best I’m coming forward, being aggressive with my forehand and playing quick. At 3-3, I settled in and wanted to really do my game plan after I came out pretty slow.
“But I got there in the end and am looking forward to the semi-finals.
“At the end, it got a little tricky, but it was pretty one-way traffic and I am really happy with where my game is at.
“It’s great, but it’s the semis,” he concluded. “The job’s not done.”
Later that day, Medvedev advanced as expected, to complete the line up in the bottom half of the draw with the top half being played on Thursday.
A slight ankle injury the Russian fifth seed picked up in the previous round, didn’t seem to affect him during his quarte final with Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, whom he ousted 6-3 7-5 after 106-minutes for his first appearance in the last four in the Californian desert.
The win extended his run of victories to 18 as he underlined the current view that he is the in-form player and the one to beat having won the last three events he contested in consecutive weeks.
“I’m actually happy the ankle didn’t hurt much because when I warmed up it was hurting pretty bad,” Medvedev said. “I couldn’t move well on the warmup.
“I tried to warm it up as long as possible and take one painkiller so that probably helped and I was actually feeling better and better during the match,” added the former US Open champion, who has two days off before he takes on Tiafoe.
He raced through the opening set losing just six points on his serve on the way to pocketing it in 39-minutes.
It was a different story in the second set on a windy Stadium Court as the Spaniard had a break chance in each of Medvedev’s first three service games only to be swatted away with big serves. He also had three chances in the eight game which he failed to convert!
Unfortunately Medvedev picked up another injury when he fell scraping his hand and requiring the trainer to bandage a bloody thumb.
“Daniil has been winning many tournaments, many consecutive matches and you can see how solid he is on the court,” Davidovich Fokina pointed out after the encounter.
“It was a very unpleasant match with the wind,” he added. “We both had break chances, he took his chance and I didn’t, but the level is there.”
At the post-match press conference, Medvedev revealed the injury was causing some concern and had required treatment twice to stop the bleeding.
“I absolutely cut it open. It was like fully open,” Medvedev said. “I never cut myself with a knife even like this because I don’t cook much. Now it’s getting black. I don’t know if it’s a good sign.
“The moment I cut it, I saw, I don’t know if I should say it, kind of the meat. That was not nice to see. They cleaned it now. I have a small tape. Should be fine.”