Preview: Djokovic Looks For Revenge Against Medvedev
Top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic has 33 ATP Masters 1000 titles to his name. Ninth seed Daniil Medvedev, No. 16 seed David Goffin and Richard Gasquet all seek their first. They'll all have the chance to move closer to hardware on Saturday at the Western & Southern Open, with Djokovic renewing his rivalry with Medvedev and Goffin squaring off against Gasquet.
Djokovic picked up right where he left off in his first tournament since capturing a fifth Wimbledon title last month (d. Federer). The World No. 1 powered into the semi-finals without dropping a set and has continued to improve his form each time he stepped onto Stadium Court in Cincinnati.
But the Serbian faces his biggest test of the tournament against a red-hot Medvedev, who has gone 12-2 in his past three events. The Russian finished runner-up at the Citi Open (l. to Kyrgios) and scored his first ATP Masters 1000 final in last week’s Coupe Rogers (l. to Nadal). But if Medvedev is tired from the backlog of matches, he isn’t showing it. He also hasn’t dropped a set this week and lost a combined eight games in his past two matches.
“He’s in form. He has a lot of confidence, not missing the ball from the back of the court. He doesn’t seem tired from that amount of matches. On the contrary, it’s serving him well,” said Djokovic. “When you’re winning so many matches in a row, your confidence is high and you’re going for your shots. It’s going to be a tough one and I think it’s also going to be physical. I’m hoping for the best.”
Djokovic leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-1, but Medvedev won their most recent encounter this April at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. Big matches against top players are no longer intimidating to the 23-year-old, who has proven this season that he belongs with the world’s best.
“I think it’s [the] experience of playing these big matches, big tournaments, The first year I was on the ATP Tour, I couldn't win one match in a Masters  event,” said Medvedev. “I was gaining this experience of playing these huge tournaments, obligatory tournaments where if you lose, you lose a lot of [ATP Rankings] points. And I think I'm ready.”
Goffin and Gasquet take to Stadium Court court first on Saturday as they face off for a chance at one of the biggest moments of their careers. Goffin is 0-4 in his previous Masters 1000 semi-finals, while Gasquet hasn’t reached a championship match at this level since 2012 Toronto. They’re tied 1-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, with both meetings coming on hard courts.
Gasquet is back in full flight after undergoing groin surgery in January. The Frenchman returned to action in May and gradually rounded into form, scoring the first Top 10 win of his comeback against Kei Nishikori last week in Montreal, Building on that momentum, Gasquet started his week by beating Andy Murray in the Brit’s return to singles, then scored more Stadium Court wins over Diego Schwartzman and Roberto Bautista Agut to secure his eighth Masters 1000 semi-final.
“You never know what can happen when you have surgery. You never know if you're going to play again. Sometimes it was tough to even walk after a hit,” said Gasquet. “Day after day, I felt better. I felt I could play on this level and it made the difference.”
Goffin has found a new gear over the past two months, going 11-3 in his past four events that also include a runner-up finish in Halle (l. to Federer) and maiden Wimbledon quarter-final. The Belgian is through to the last four in Cincinnati, marking the first time he has reached the semi-finals twice at a Masters 1000 event.
Unlike his previous matches at this juncture of a Masters 1000, which have seen him face the likes of Djokovc, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, Goffin will arrive on Stadium Court as the higher-ranked player. But the Belgian is far too experienced to take Gasquet lightly and knows he will need to bring his best tennis.
It’s a bigger opportunity on paper when you see the [opponents] I’ve had in the past, but it’s also tough mentally when you see there is an opportunity. It’s also an opportunity for him,” said Goffin. “I’ll try to play my best tennis and try to be aggressive. The key will be to go for it and have no regrets.”