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Men's Semifinal: Daniil Medvedev Sets Up Title Rematch With Victory Over Tommy Paul
3 Min Read · March 16, 2024

Daniil Medvedev reached a second consecutive final at the BNP Paribas Open by beating a swashbuckling Tommy Paul 1-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2 in an impromptu night session in the desert.

Just before they made their way onto Stadium 1, the duo shared a few good natured words. After all, they practiced together before the tournament. Once on court, they were all business, with Medvedev forced to hang on as the home favorite pushed for victory in set two. An ankle injury sustained by Paul when leading in the tiebreak 3-2 seemed to shift the momentum.

The contest began at about 7 p.m. local time after yet more rain — which is usually very rare in the Coachella Valley desert — pushed back the completion of Carlos Alcaraz’s comeback win over Jannik Sinner.

Paul, who has been watching old videos of net rushers Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and Tim Henman while in Indian Wells, successfully deployed an aggressive attacking game against three-time Grand Slam finalist Casper Ruud in the quarterfinal and kept it up against the former U.S. Open champion.

Serving and volleying, slapping returns and changing pace from the baseline, Paul — raised in North Carolina — led 4-0 in a mere 15 minutes.

“He played an unbelievable first set, so I was like, ‘Okay, if I want to win, I have to try to do a little better and find the shot that can (put him) in trouble,” said Medvedev, who suffered an ankle injury himself at the 2023 BNP Paribas Open.

Medvedev changed racquets and broke, only to see Paul break back immediately. Paul needed five set points to take the opener, serving and volleying on successive points to end it.

Would Paul be able to keep it up, having hit a sizzling 12 winners and making only four unforced errors in the set? That would have been difficult, and Medvedev indeed pounced after Paul erred a bit more and quickly led 3-0. Yet Paul continued to play his game. On one point, he authored a delicate backhand slice, then crushed a forehand on his next shot.

The “Octopus” did his thing on returns, however, cracking a few forehands down the line from well behind the baseline as Paul came in. Medvedev looked comfortable at 4-0, but Paul stormed back, breaking his opponent’s serve to keep the set going, then saving two set points at 5-6 — with winners, of course.

Fireworks coincidentally went up in the desert sky as Paul approached one of the biggest wins of his career. Paul led the tiebreak 3-2 — after three straight points went against serve — and the trend ensued in the slower nighttime conditions. On that wild sixth point, Medvedev dragged Paul from corner to corner. As Paul desperately defended, he went over his left ankle. Possibly jolted, Paul missed a makeable forehand volley on the next point — and didn’t win another point in the ‘breaker.

He had his ankle strapped between sets and Medvedev pounced right at the start of the third — after Paul led 40-0 on serve. He picked off Paul with a forehand for another break and this time, the 26-year-old couldn’t reverse a hefty deficit, as much as he tried. Medvedev was forced to save break points in his final two service games.

It still proved to be a successful fortnight for Paul, who reached his second Masters semifinal. But it’s Medvedev who plays for the title for the second year in a row. He knows his task won’t be easy.

“I saw Carlos today,” said Medvedev. “He was playing pretty well, second and third sets, especially. But I know what happened last year so I’m going to try my best to try to turn it around. To play better, play stronger, more on the lines, a bit more aces, stuff like this. Hopefully I can be able to do it.”

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