Medvedev handles Hanfmann 6-2, 6-2 to reach first Rome semifinal
Daniil Medvedev from Russia proclaims he cannot play on clay yet incredulously, found himself in the quarterfinals in Rome. The former world #1 has had an outstanding season. In addition to a run to the finals in Indian Wells (l. Alcaraz) he won four titles including his first in Miami, a Masters 1000 event.
In the semis in Dubai, he dispatched the twenty-two time grand slam champion and world #1 Novak Djokovic and has owned former world #2 Alexander Zverev posting three wins this season, including the 4th round in Rome. The 2021 US Open champion had never progressed beyond the first round at the Foro Italico and had to defeat another German, Yannick Hafmann to reach the final four.
Hanfmann an ATP tour veteran at thirty-one, played tennis at the University of Southern California and was a team member when they won two NCAA championships. A two-time tour level finalist, he reached a career high rank of 92 and is currently #101.
Since arriving in the eternal city, he came thru qualies and hasn’t looked back. En route to the quarters he eliminated two seeds; world #9 Taylor Fritz in straights and reigning Monte Carlo champion and world #6, Andrey Rublev.
(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
This was their first tour level meeting. Medvedev won the toss and elected to receive. In cool, cloudy conditions, Hanfmann donated three backhand errors and dumped serve. Medvedev missed 5/8 first serves including two double faults and gave back the break.
The German opened the third with a netted volley, faced three deuce and three break points and dropped serve when he netted another forehand volley. The Russian redeemed himself with three consecutive winners and consolidated the break at love.
Hanfmann opened the fourth with an exquisite forehand drop shot but following three unforced errors, dropped serve for the third time. Medvedev faced two deuce points but with exceptional defense and three groundstroke winners, held for 5-1.
Hanfmann serving to stay in the set, acquitted himself well with a love hold. Medvedev served for the set with new balls and though he committed three unforced errors including his third double fault, saved both break points with aces and secured the set with an unreturnable serve.
Hanfmann served first in the second and while he struck two forehand winners, faced double break point, and dumped serve when he missed wide with an inside-out forehand. Medvedev opened with a stunning crosscourt forehand pass hit from outside the doubles alley. He faced four deuce and two break points following three additional double faults yet held for 2-0 with a superb crosscourt backhand off a well-struck drop shot.
Hanfmann crushed two forehand winners and held to 30 for 1-2 while Medvedev hit two aces and held to 30 for 3-1. The German opened the fourth with two winners but with four errors two off each side, dropped serve while Medvedev faced two deuce and break point and with his fourth unforced error, gave back the break.
Hanfmann opened the seventh with two errors, faced triple break point and dumped serve when he netted a drop shot. Medvedev served for the match up 5-2. Despite opening with a double fault, he secured victory with his 8th ace and an incredible forehand down the line. The man that purports to disparage the dirt has reached his first semifinal at the season’s final Masters 1000 event on clay.
It would appear this was a completely one-sided affair but that was not the case. Hanfmann had a higher first serve percentage (71/56) and won a greater percentage of second serve points (57/37) and second serve return points (63/43). The German finished with four less winners (19/23) but just one more unforced error (14/13).
Medvedev won twenty more points than Hanfmann and hit 8 aces and 7 double faults. The former world #1 cannot afford to donate that many points against his next opponent. He will battle a familiar foe in the penultimate round: Stefanos Tsitsipas or Borna Coric.
He leads Tsitsipas, world #5 and two-time Monte Carlo champion 7-4 in their head-to-head having split their two prior meetings on the dirt. He trails Coric, world #16 and reigning Western & Southern Open champion (d. Tsitsipas) 3-4 in their head-to-head though the Russian prevailed in their most recent meeting this season in Dubai. This would be their first meeting on clay with a coveted spot in the final on the line.