Indian Wells Daily Preview: The Men’s Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells Daily Preview: The Men’s Semifinals

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Frances Tiafoe warming up on Wednesday at Indian Wells (twitter.com/bnpparibasopen)

The men’s semifinals take place on Friday, featuring four of the ATP’s best hard court players.

In the first semifinal, 2021 US Open champion Daniil Medvedev faces 2022 US Open semifinalist Frances Tiafoe.  In the second semifinal, 2022 US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz plays Jannik Sinner, in a rematch of an epic US Open quarterfinal from six months ago.

Saturday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time with the women’s doubles championship, featuring Barbora Krejcikova and Katerinia Siniakova (1) vs. Beatriz Haddad Maia and Laura Siegemund.  Krejcikova and Siniakova have won 24 of their last 26 matches, as well as the last four Majors they’ve entered.  By contrast, this is Haddad Maia and Siegemund’s first tournament as a team.

And on Saturday night after the men’s singles semifinals, the men’s doubles championship will be decided.  It’s Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski (1) vs. Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden.  Koolhof and Skupski are vying for their first title of 2023, while Bopanna and Ebden won a title a few weeks ago in Doha.


Daniil Medvedev (5) vs. Frances Tiafoe (14)  – Not Before 1:00pm on Stadium 1

“Tennis paradise” has been anything but for Daniil Medvedev.  He was only 6-5 at this event prior to this fortnight, and has openly complained to anyone that will listen regarding the slow court speeds here, including this now famous rant.  Medvedev also turned his ankle against Sascha Zverev earlier this week.  Despite all that, Daniil is one win away from his seventh Masters 1000 final.

Frances Tiafoe loves playing on American hard courts.  He’s advanced into the second week of the US Open for three consecutive years, highlighted by last year’s thrilling run to the semis.  Frances has also reached the fourth round or better for four straight years in Miami.  And his sole ATP title to date also came in the United States (Delray Beach).  However, this is the first time he’s been beyond the third round in the desert, and this is his first ever Masters 1000 semifinal.

Medvedev is an undefeated 4-0 against Tiafoe, and has claimed 10 of their 11 sets contested.  Though notably, they have not played in nearly two years, since the 2021 Miami Open, and Frances is a much-improved performer since that time.  However, Daniil’s defensive skills have stifled the American’s power in the past, and the slower-playing hard courts in the desert should only make this easier to accomplish.  I like Medvedev to extend his current winning streak to 19.


Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Jannik Sinner (11) – Third on Stadium 1

In September at the US Open, these two played for five hours and 15 minutes, and until nearly 3:00am, with Alcaraz eventually prevailing 6-3 in the fifth.  Carlitos would of course go on to win his first Major just a few days later, while quarterfinals have remained a considerable stumbling block for Jannik, going 2-8 in that round last season.  However, Sinner overcame some of that scar tissue on Thursday, when he defeated defending champion Taylor Fritz in the quarterfinals.

Alcaraz is now 12-1 in 2023, after missing the Aussie swing due to injury.  This is his second consecutive semifinal at Indian Wells.  A year ago, he lost a dramatic semi here to Rafael Nadal, in a match played amidst extremely windy conditions. 

Sinner 16-3 this season, and reached back-to-back hard court finals last month, winning the title in Montpellier.  This is his second Masters 1000 semifinal, after advancing to and winning in this round of the 2021 Miami Open.

Overall their tour-level head-to-head is tied at 2-2, though Alcaraz has taken both of their hard courts meetings.  Sinner’s victories have come on grass and clay.  On this surface, I give Carlitos the slight edge to reach his third Masters 1000 final.  Regardless of the result, I expect another tight, high-quality affair between these two, as both arrive to this semifinal in sharp form.


Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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World No.32 Davidovich Fokina Replaces Long-Time Coach With Verdasco

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Fernando Verdasco was spotted earlier this week briefly watching Ons Jabeur play at the French Open but his focus this year is on another player.

The former top 10 player has landed a new coaching job after being hired by compatriot Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Somebody who he once played a Tour-level doubles match alongside back in 2020. Fokina has opted to stop working with Jorge Aguirre, who has been his mentor since he was a child.

The change comes after what has been a mixed start to the season for Fokina who has only managed to win back-to-back matches in two out of 11 tournaments played before the start of Roland Garros. His sole win over a top 20 player occurred at the start of 2024 when he beat Hubert Hurkacz at the United Cup.  

“I will be very brief. I have left it with Jorge (Aguirre) and I start with Verdasco, with whom I have had a good relationship for years. He has not officially retired, but I knew that he was training other players and it was time,” Fokina told reporters after beating Valentin Vacherot in the first round of the French Open.
“It was time to close a stage and start a new one. With his experience, Verdasco can help me a lot to face the games, to assume that pressure and tension of the competition.”

Verdasco has won seven ATP titles during his career and reached the semi-finals of the 2009 Australian Open. At this year’s Madrid Open, he briefly helped Jabeur whose main coach Issam Jellali was unable to attend the tournament. 

Fokina will next play Casper Ruud in Roland Garros.

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Roland Garros 2024: Casper Ruud Explains Geneva Decision, Martin Etcheverry Talks Roland Garros And Djokovic Influence

Two-time finalist Casper Ruud is into the second round with a straight sets win over Felipe Meligeni Alves.

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Casper Ruud has explained the decision behind playing in Geneva last week after he defeated Felipe Meligeni Alves 6-3 6-4 6-3.

The world number seven is into the second round after a straight sets win over the Brazilian qualifier.

Ruud has reached the final the past two occasions here having lost to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in those respective finals.

Now the Norwegian is targeting more success in Paris this year and spoke about his opening round performance after the match, “Yeah, I was honestly very happy. I think it was a good start,” Ruud stated in his press conference.

“I think Felipe is a dangerous player, and obviously I didn’t know him so well. So not easy to know what’s going to come out of his racquet. I think he was firing pretty good serves and forehands.

“Overall, I think it was a pretty high-quality match and happy to be through in straight sets. That’s just what I was kind of hoping and looking for. Yeah, I’m very happy to be through.”

Given Ruud’s history at Roland Garros, there would be no reason to suggest that the Norwegian would need to play his way into form.

However that’s exactly what he did in Geneva the week before Roland Garros as he won the title in Switzerland.

After his opening round match Ruud was asked about why he always plays in Geneva instead of practicing on-site in Paris, “No, I decide based on the fact that I enter the tournament, and with the purpose of going. But of course, if you do super well in Madrid and Rome and you play, let’s say, 10 matches or more within those two weeks or the two tournaments, maybe, depending on how your body feels, it’s kind of easier to skip it,” Ruud explained.

“But that wasn’t the case for me in Madrid and Rome. I played only four matches there. I lost early in Rome. If I didn’t play Geneva I would have had 17 or 18 days since I lost in Rome until starting in Roland Garros, which in my eyes, my feeling, is just a bit too much. For some players, they don’t think it’s too much. They don’t have a problem with it.

“But for me I like going into tournament kind of mode and feeling in the zone when you’re playing an official match. That’s why I like playing. It gives me kind of confidence and match feeling going into a Grand Slam, which is the Grand Slam that I personally feel like I have the most chances to do well in.”

Ruud will aim to continue his good run of form when he takes on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round.

Martin Etcheverry Speaks On Roland Garros And Djokovic Influence

Finally Tomas Martin Etcheverry defeated Arthur Cazaux in four sets to seal his place in the second round.

The Argentinian is a big Novak Djokovic fan and after the match spoke about his love for Roland Garros and has tipped Djokovic to win this year’s tournament, “I think it’s my favorite tournament since I was a child, and I always want to play here,” Martin Etcheverry explained.

“This is a moment of the year that I want to be here and try to play my best tennis because I want to get a good result here.

“Yeah, is he my idol, and he is the No. 1 of the world. I don’t know, like six years right now. Yeah, I always try to watch him, trying to improve the game. I always trying to saw him. Yeah, I think he’s going to be No. 1 a lot of time. I don’t know if they have a good year this year, but I think it’s Novak Djokovic. Maybe he can win this tournament.”

Martin Etcheverry will play another Frenchman in the form of Arthur Rinderknech in the second round with Ruud being the potential third round opponent.

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Grand Slam Quarter-Finalist Van De Zandschulp Pondering Retirement After French Open Exit

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image via https://x.com/Boticvdz/

Botic van de Zandschulp has revealed he is losing his passion for tennis and is considering retiring from the sport following his exit from the French Open on Monday.

The 29-year-old was knocked out of the tournament in straight sets by Fabio Fognini, who eased his way to a 6-1, 6-1, 7-5, victory. It is the second Grand Slam in a row where he has fallen at the first hurdle with the 2022 Wimbledon championships being the last major event where he won back-to-back matches.   

“I don’t look forward to competitions at all anymore,” Zandschulp told Dutch media.
“I have been asking myself more and more lately whether I want to continue.
“You have to do work that you enjoy. Everyone has a bad day every now and then. But if there are too many, then you have to ask yourself whether you want to continue.” 

Zandschulp has been the top-ranked player in his country with his most notable achievement being a run to the quarter-finals of the 2021 US Open. The former world No.22 is a two-time runner-up at the Munich Open but is yet to win an ATP Tour title. He has registered a total of six wins over top 10 players, including Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev. 

However, recent difficulties on the Tour have left the Dutchman questioning if he wants to continue playing.  

“I like the training. Those are great days. But when I get up in the morning, I no longer look forward to the matches at all.” He commented.

Zandschulp’s remarks could be a reaction to his frustrating loss to Fognini. However, he confirmed that he has been considering retiring for a long time. 

“It was the worst match I have played in my life,” he said. 
“Of course, it is now fresh after the match. That plays a role in my mind, but the thoughts of quitting have been there for a long time. It is not an easy life as a tennis player. You really live your life, play thirty weeks a year and travel from pillar to post.
“If you don’t play, someone else will pass you by (in the rankings). That’s why I now play extra tournaments instead of charging myself at home.”

Zandschulp is currently ranked 102nd in the world and is scheduled to play in the French Open doubles event on Tuesday.

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