By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Saturday, March 18, 2023
During his determined run to his maiden Indian Wells final, Daniil Medvedev has shown both problem-solving skill and a penchant for self-preservation.
The fifth-seeded Medvedev endured a twisted ankle edging Alexander Zverev 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-5, a cut finger in his quarterfinal defeat of Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and the headache of seven squandered match points subduing Frances Tiafoe in today’s semifinals.
Riding a 19-match winning streak into his fourth consecutive final tomorrow, Medvedev says facing 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz can feel like a trip to the tennis burn unit.
“Carlos, when he was there at like 17, I was, like, Wow, this guy, he’s strong, but you never know, sometimes guy hits strong and then makes a lot of unforced [errors],” Medvedev told the media in Indian Wells. “Let’s see how he does. Then in one year he’s No. 1 in the world. There are matches where he doesn’t miss much, hitting just stronger than his opponents.
“That’s like surprising or amusing to see, because, well, you’re like, If this guy is on fire, what can you do? I remember Madrid I didn’t watch the matches but when he beat Rafa and Novak back to back on clay, that’s amazing at 18 years old.”
Sunday’s final pits reigning US Open champion Alcaraz against 2021 US Open champion Medvedev, who won their lone meeting in straight sets at the 2021 Wimbledon.
Adding to the intrigue and intensity: If Alcaraz captures his third Masters crown tomorrow he will supplant Novak Djokovic and regain the world No. 1 ranking.
Bidding for his fourth consecutive title, Medvedev says there’s one major Alcaraz question: How many Slams will the teenage phenom win?
“He has amazing skills. The question is, we know that he knows how to use them,” Medvedev said. “Then the question comes, does he win 10 Grand Slams, 5, or 23 and maybe he beats the record.
“It’s going to be enjoyable to see and enjoyable to play against him…
“It’s going to be great to play him, especially I’m feeling confident now. I think surface is better for him, but I’m gonna try my best to show my best tennis and hopefully have a great final.”
Some opponents say the 19-year-old Spaniard already combines the best of the Big 3 in his all-court skill set.
Former world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, Alcaraz’s coach, has great expectations for the Miami Open champion.
“I have the goal to put him on the high level of tennis,” Ferrero said after Alcaraz became the youngest man to win the US Open since Pete Sampras in 1990. “Of course, I think it’s going to be very, very difficult to achieve what they have done on tennis. We’re talking about 22 Grand Slams. He has only one. Is a long way still to go.
“But who knows? I think he has all the tennis and potential to be one of the best. All we have to do is try it.”
Photo credit: Aurelien Meunier/Getty