Medvedev, Tsitsipas race on to Italian Open semis

Russia's Daniil Medvedev returns to Germany's Yannick Hanfmann during their quarterfinals of the Men's ATP Rome Open tennis tournament at Foro Italico in Rome on 18 May 2023AFP

Third seed Daniil Medvedev and 2022 finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas powered into the Italian Open semi-finals on Thursday with comfortable straight-set wins.

Medvedev continued his clay breakthrough as he reached the final four 6-2, 6-2 over Yannick Hanfmann.

Greek Tsitsipas, the 2022 finalist, subdued Croat Borna Coric 6-3, 6-4 on a day when the French Open field was blown wide open by the withdrawal of Rafael Nadal.

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The iconic 14-time champion, 36, cast a huge shadow over his future in the game, confessing that he did not know when he would be fit from a hip injury which has kept him off court since January.

Medvedev, the 2021 US Open champion, has made big improvements in his clay game here after freely admitting he’s never been comfortable on the dirt.

Russia's Daniil Medvedev returns to Germany's Yannick Hanfmann

He has shattered that stereotype with his steady progress at the Foro Italico, reaching his seventh semi-final of the season. Medvedev dominated number 101 German qualifier Hanfmann after settling in following breaks of serve in the opening three games in their quarter-final.

After going down a break in the second set, the 31-year-old Hanfmann complained to his coaching box that he had no legs left as he played on prior to losing serve for the fifth time in the match.

But he struck back briefly with a break of the seed to hold on for 2-4 before dropping serve again as Medvedev moved into winning position, closing it out on a second match point.

“All of the courts are pretty different here, it was not easy to adapt for both of us,” Medvedev said.

“But I managed to adapt better. I’m really happy about it. A win is a win. Not counting the serve, I played well, returned well, moved well.

“I’m looking forward to the next round.”

Making hay on clay

Prior to this edition, Medvedev had never won a match in Rome and had little confidence in his game on the clay. He is now into the final four after four victories and the loss of just one set.

“Against Hanfmann I wanted to put as many balls into the court as possible. He plays very aggressive. I played deep to try and make him miss – and maybe he was not playing his best match.

“He was struggling more than me. I’m glad I was able to neutralise his game.”

Medvedev also increased his lead in Tour match wins as he claimed his 37th of the season.

Tsitsipas was meanwhile dominant against Coric after losing to the Croat in three of five matches, including here in 2018 and in last summer’s Cincinnati final.

Tsitsipas secured the opening set with a break and took a 2-1 lead in the second. But two double-faults contributed as he dropped serve for 4-4 only to break straight back and serve out victory a game later.

Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates winning a point against Croatia's Borna Coric during their quarterfinals of the Men's ATP Rome Open tennis tournament at Foro Italico in Rome on 18 May 2023

“These night sessions are becoming very fun,” the fifth seed said.

“This is clay and things can escalate very quickly,” he said of his stutter near the end.

“I managed my shotmaking at the important moments and was able to retrieve (the momentum) at the end.

“I felt the energy point by point.”

Tsitsipas and Medvedev have played 12 times to date with the latter leading 7-4.

“He’s playing well and I’m also feeling good on court. I hope he brings out the best in me – good preparation and off we go,” said Tsitsipas.