MIAMI: World number one Carlos Alcaraz and in-form Russian Daniil Medvedev booked their places in the Miami Open semi-finals with convincing victories over American opponents here at the Hard Rock Stadium on Thursday.
Alcaraz crushed ninth-seed Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-2, while Medvedev ended US qualifier Christopher Eubanks’ impressive run with a 6-3, 7-5 victory in their quarter-final.
Alcaraz needed just 78 minutes to dismiss Fritz with the Spaniard yet again dominating with his big serve and attacking the American from the outset.
The powerful Alcaraz set the tone by breaking Fritz’s first service game and he did the same again at the start of the second set, winning the game to love.
The 19-year-old broke again to go 5-2 up and wrapped up the win without losing a point in the final game.
He will be up against Italian tenth-seed Jannik Sinner next as he seeks to complete the ‘Sunshine Double’ following his triumph over Medvedev at Indian Wells.
The 26-year-old Eubanks was playing in his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final after upsetting Frenchmen Adrian Mannarino and Gregoire Barrere and Croatia’s 17th-ranked Borna Coric.
The 6-foot-7 (2.01m), big-serving Eubanks showed no signs of nerves, holding his first two serves, but he was unable to take advantage of five break-points in a thrilling fourth game.
A half hour rain-break appeared to disrupt Eubanks’ momentum, however, and he was broken on his first service game after the resumption of play, going long and allowing Medvedev to take a 4-3 lead.
The Russian, who after the break noticeably stepped further into the second serve, broke again to take the first set, but Eubanks was not about to roll over against the world number five.
In the sixth game of the second set, Medvedev won a great rally at the net to go 4-2 up but Eubanks again showed his character to break back and keep his hopes alive.
Eubanks saved two match points as Medvedev looked to break him and avoid a deciding set, but then on the third match point he messed up a straightforward volley, putting it out and ending his resistance.Medvedev has now won 22 of his past 23 matches, capturing titles in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai during that run and reaching the final in Indian Wells, where he lost to world number one Carlos Alcaraz.
Medvedev, in the semi-finals in Miami for the first time, will face fellow-Russian Karen Khachanov for a place in the final after the 14th seed beat Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo 6-3, 6-2.
Khachanov needed just 75 minutes to take care of business against Cerundolo despite a determined start from the Argentine.
Cerundolo broke the Russian to go 3-2 up but then lost his next two service games and was never able to recover.
Khachanov now faces a familiar foe in Medvedev.
RYBAKINA MAKES FINAL
On the women’s side, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina reached the final by beating American world number three Jessica Pegula 7-6 (7-3), 6-4.
Kazakhstan’s Rybakina is on course to claim the ‘Sunshine Double’ after winning in Indian Wells earlier this month.
The 23-year-old, ranked seventh in the world, will face the winner of the semi-final between Petra Kvitova and Romanian Sorana Cirstea.
In a rain-disrupted match, neither player was able to settled into their serve with 11 breaks in total throughout the two sets.
Pegula had been 4-2 up in the second set but after she was broken again, the contest turned decisively in Rybakina’s direction when the American, on her serve, found the net on a return to go 5-4 down to the Moscow-born Rybakina.
Rybakina then held her serve with ease to secure back-to-back WTA 1000 finals.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova reached the Miami semi-finals for the first time after fighting to a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over Ekaterina Alexandrova on Thursday.
The Czech grabbed the first set, in the match which was postponed due to rain on Wednesday, after breaking Alexandrova on her second service game but the Russian fought back well.
Kvitova, ranked 12th in the world, held off four break-points at 2-2 and but was finally broken at 4-2 and Alexandrova held on to her serve to force a third set.
It was tight throughout until the 33-year-old Kvitova made the decisive break to go 5-3 up and then served out for the match.
Kvitova’s victory in two hours and 11 minutes ensures her a place in the last four at her 13th attempt in Miami and she will now face another veteran in the 32-year-old Cirstea.
Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2023
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