IMAGE: Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates victory over John Isner of the United States in their men’s singles quarter-final at the Western & Southern Open, at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio, on Friday. Photograph: Dylan Buell/Getty Images
World number one Daniil Medvedev and fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas defused big-serving American threats Taylor Fritz and John Isner on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Open.
Medvedev, champion in Cincinnati in 2019, sharpened his game for his upcoming US Open title defence with a 7-6(1), 6-3 win over 11th seeded Fritz, while Tsitsipas could manage only a single break chance in a three set slugfest with Isner but it was enough to clinch a 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-3 victory.
Medvedev’s win was powered by 18 aces while a misfiring Fritz, one of the game’s big-hitters, had just three offset by three double-faults.
Isner, the biggest server in men’s tennis with nearly 200 more aces than his nearest rival Nick Kyrgios, also had 18 aces but it was still not enough to put away his patient Greek opponent.
While it looked a comfortable win for Medvedev it was anything but, with the Russian saving three set points in the opener before finally prevailing 7-1 in the tie-break.
From that point on Medvedev took charge, grabbing the only break of the match early in the second, and that would be all that was required to advance to the last four in Cincinnati for the second consecutive year
IMAGE: Russia’s Daniil Medvedev celebrates defeating Taylor Fritz of the United States. Photograph: Dylan Buell/Getty Images
“The first set he was on top of me a little bit,” admitted Medvedev. “He had many more chances than I did on my serve, but I managed to stay in.
“There were some set points where I could have missed and no one would have talked about it, it would have been normal.
“But I managed to stay in the set and that helped me win the match”
Breaks were just as scarce in the Tsitsipas and Isner match.
After an opening set without a single break chance for either player, Tsitsipas grabbed the lead taking the tie-breaker 7-5.
The first break opportunity would finally come in the 11th game of the second set when Isner would need three chances to convert and take a 6-5 lead, then holding serve to send the contest to a decider.
Up 4-3 and with Isner serving, Tsitsipas would finally get his one and only break chance, and he made it count – punching the air in delight as he watched the American’s return sail long for a 5-3 lead.
“I think the most important thing with him is to try and stay patient because there will be a lot situations you cannot really control,” said Tsitsipas, who next takes on Medvedev for a spot in Sunday’s final.
“It all came to a very few points at the end… I was just able to hang in there and play one more ball back and not give him much to work with.”
Keys beats Rybakina in Cincinnati to set up semi-final with Kvitova
IMAGE: Madison Keys, right, shakes hands with Kazakhstan’s Elena after their women’s singles quarter-final. Photograph: Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Madison Keys swept past Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina 6-2, 6-4 at the Cincinnati Open on Friday, setting up a semi-final clash with Petra Kvitova after the Czech defeated Ajla Tomljanovic.
After dispatching world number one Iga Swiatek in the third round, the 27-year-old Keys carried that momentum into the quarter-finals with a dominating win over 25th-ranked Rybakina.
Both Keys and Rybakina had reached the quarter-finals without dropping a set and it would the American keeping the unblemished record.
“I knew she is a remarkable player and she can turn it around at any moment so I knew I had to try to stay out in front because at any moment she can go on a roll,” said Keys, finalist at the 2017 U.S. Open.
“I think that is kind of the key against her. If you back off at all then she gets to dictate and run you around.”
One of the WTA Tour’s big-hitters, ranking number two on the season ace list, Rybakina struggled with her serve the entire match, hitting just one ace while piling up four double faults.
In the first contest on a muggy Centre Court, Keys got out to a flying start, breaking Rybakina twice on the way to a 4-0 lead before the Kazakhstan player was finally able to hold serve.
After surrendering the opener Rybakina rallied in the second with an early break to jump out in front 2-0.
But Keys dug in, sweeping the next five games to retake control 5-2 and after a late wobble closed out the contest on her fourth match point when Rybakina hit her return into the net.
Later, Kvitova reached the last four in Cincinnati for the third time in her career with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Australian qualifier Tomljanovic.
Twice Wimbledon champion Kvitova knocked out Tomljanovic in just over an hour as she fired in 12 aces.