Medvedev prevails; Osaka falls

LOS CABOS, Mexico (AFP) — World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev powered into the semifinals of the ATP hardcourt tournament in Los Cabos, Mexico, on Thursday with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Ricardas Berankis.

Medvedev, playing his first tournament since bowing out of the quarterfinals at Mallorca in June, had launched his return with his 250th career match win over Australian qualifier Rinky Hijikata on Wednesday.

He said the victory over Lithuania’s Berankis felt “very different” but the outcome was the same and never looked in doubt as Medevedev reeled off eight straight games to go from 2-2 in the opening set to 6-2, 4-0 and fully in control.

“My opponent played very different, much more aggressive,” Medvedev said, adding that it actually worked to his advantage.

“To be honest, against that type of player sometimes you don’t have much to do. Just try to serve well, bringing the balls back in the court.”

“That’s what I managed to do. He missed a little but too much today and that was enough.”

Medvedev, who last year ended Novak Djokovic’s bid for a calendar Grand Slam with his triumph over the Serb in the US Open final, dropped just three points on first serve, despite putting less than half in play.

He saved two break points in the opening set but was otherwise largely untroubled, clinching the win with his eighth ace on match point as he finished it out with a love game.

Medvedev will face fourth-seeded serb Miomir Kecmanovic for a place in the final. Kecmanovic beat Brandon Nakashima 6-2, 6-4.

Medvedev is chasing his first title of 2022.

He fell to Rafael Nadal in an agonizing Australian Open final and missed Wimbledon because of its ban of Russian and Belarussian players.

If he reaches the final here, Medvedev will be assured of taking the world No. 1 ranking into his defense of the US Open title at Flushing Meadows later this month.

“I’m playing great here so far,” Medvedev said.

“Of course, the further you go, the tougher the matches, the tougher the opponents, more pressure.”

“But that’s what we like and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, American teenager Coco Gauff built a big lead early then had to dig deep late for a 6-4, 6-4 victory over four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka Thursday at the WTA hardcourt tournament in San Jose.

The 18-year-old, who reached her first Grand Slam final at the French Open in June, needed just one break of serve to seize the first set 6-4 in the blockbuster encounter.

With booming serves and matching ground strokes, she then roared to a 5-1 lead in the second set.

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