Tennis: Tiafoe beats former champ Norrie to reach Indian Wells semis, faces Medvedev

Frances Tiafoe of the United States returns a shot to Britain's Cameron Norrie. PHOTO: AFP

INDIAN WELLS, California – American Frances Tiafoe reached the first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final of his career on Wednesday, downing former champion Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-4 to make the last four at Indian Wells.

Tiafoe, ranked 16th in the world, hasn’t dropped a set in the combined WTA and Masters 1000 event in the California desert.

He had broken Norrie twice in the second set to serve for the match at 5-2 but was broken.

He made no mistake, however, at his next opportunity. His biggest serve of the match put him up 40-0 as he closed it out in style.

Britain’s Norrie, who won the title in 2021 and has a 21-4 win-loss record in 2023, saw the end of an eight-match win streak that included his victory over Carlos Alcaraz in the Rio de Janeiro final in February.

“I truly feel like when I’m there mentally, I’m one of the best players in the world,” Tiafoe said.

“Today it is not just about getting to the semis, I am happy to beat a guy like that, who has been playing so well.”

“At the end it got a little tricky, but it was pretty much one-way traffic and I am really happy with where my game is at,” he said.

Tiafoe will face sixth-ranked Daniil Medvedev, whose sore right ankle wasn’t a factor as he beat No. 28 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3, 7-5, for a place in the final.

Former world No. 1 Medvedev, coming off three straight ATP titles at Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai, beat Alexander Zverev in the fourth round on Tuesday despite badly rolling his right ankle in the second set.

“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 2021 US Open champion, who has two days off before he takes on Tiafoe.

He also said he felt sorry for Ukrainian players competing on the tours amid turmoil in their country, which Russia invaded in February 2022.

Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko withdrew from her match with Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka at Indian Wells due to what she said was a panic attack triggered by a chat with WTA chief executive Steve Simon about tennis’s response to Russia’s invasion.

Belarus has been a staging ground for what Moscow calls a “special military operation”.

Women’s world No. 1 Iga Swiatek has called for more support for Ukrainian players as they compete during the ongoing crisis.

“I definitely do feel sorry for all the Ukrainian players and what they go through,” Russian Medvedev said.

“For sure, the situation with Tsurenko, I don’t know in detail. It’s more for her and for maybe a little bit Sabalenka to answer, because I actually didn’t know about this till the next day,” he added.

Western military officials estimate casualties on both sides at more than 100,000 killed or wounded since the invasion. Tens of thousands of civilians are also feared to have died, while millions have fled the threat of fighting.

The ATP said in a statement in 2022 that they “strongly condemn Russia’s reprehensible invasion of Ukraine”.

Medvedev said: “Of course we have a responsibility (to talk about the issue) and it depends how every person, individual, will do with it.

“I’ve always said the same, I’m for peace all over the world and that’s all I can say.” AFP, REUTERS

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