Medvedev Survives Popyrin In Miami Battle

Russian to meet unseeded Tiafoe

Top seed Daniil Medvedev needed two tie-breaks, more than two-and-a-half hours, and lots of electrolytes to overcome an inspired Alexei Popyrin 7-6(3), 6-7(7), 6-4 at the Miami Open presented by Itau on Sunday.

The World No. 2 had three match points and served for the match in the second set, but found himself in for a war of attrition as the 21-year-old Aussie took them the distance on Grandstand.

“It’s probably one of the sweetest victories in my career, because I was cramping like hell in the third set,” Medvedev said in an on-court interview. “It’s one thing when you’re cramping when you’re [ahead in the score], but I started cramping before. It was tough to think about the win in these conditions.

“At the same time, I should have won in two sets and we would not be talking about cramping. But anyway, we have the result on the board and I’m happy that I managed to go through all the difficulties of this definitely crazy match.”

Medvedev brought a 2-0 ATP Head2Head lead into his clash against the Aussie, who has also been a regular practice partner throughout the season. It’s been a productive partnership for Medvedev, who has helped lead Russia to the ATP Cup title, reached his maiden Australian Open final and lifted the trophy at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

Popyrin, who claimed his first ATP Tour trophy at the Singapore Tennis Open in February, did well to stay with World No. 2. He matched Medvedev’s rhythm from the baseline and found more winners overall (12 to 11) in a tight opening set. But it was the unforced errors that would be his undoing under pressure in the first-set tie-break, as Medvedev closed it out.

He was in for a tougher test in the second set, although Medvedev looked in control after taking a 4-1 lead. The Aussie found another gear, and broke Medvedev from 0/40 for the first time as the Russian served for the match at 5-3. He earned a roar from fans as he saved three match points to levelled the score at 5-5, before converting his third set point to send them into a decider.

Only one break opportunity was on offer in the third set, and it went to the Russian. Medvedev was struggling physically as the match went on, requesting electrolytes from the physio and fighting cramps in the balmy South Florida sun. Medvedev kept the points short, and despite being visibly hobbled he sealed his spot in the fourth round after two hours and 39 minutes.

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“Of course, it would have been better to just win it 6-3 in the second or 6-4 when I had a triple match point,” Medvedev said. “As soon as [a missed opportunity] happens you just focus on the next one, but the only thing is it was tough to focus on the next one because I felt the cramps coming. It was not easy."

Looking to reach the quarter-finals in Miami for the first time, Medvedev will meet unseeded American Frances Tiafoe, who later overcame 16th seed Dusan Lajovic 1-6, 7-5, 6-3. The win was Tiafoe's third consecutive from a set down this week and booked his third straight Round of 16 appearance in Miami, having advanced as far in 2018 and to the quarter-finals in 2019.

A maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final will be on the line when No. 22 seed Taylor Fritz meets No. 32 seed Alexander Bublik. American Fritz overcame Brit Cameron Norrie 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 on Sunday to reach the Round of 16 for the first time, while Bublik defeated Australian James Duckworth 6-4, 6-4.