2023 Indian Wells: Frances Tiafoe rides 'one-way traffic' to first ATP Masters 1000 SF
Frances Tiafoe is making a habit of deep runs at big events on home soil. Six months after his breakthrough trip to the US Open semifinals, the American has hit his way into the same stage in Indian Wells.
The 25-year-old advanced to the last four at an ATP Masters 1000 for the first time with a comfortable 6-4, 6-4 win against 10th seed Cameron Norrie on Wednesday at the BNP Paribas Open, running his perfect set record to 8-0 at the tournament. The victory sets up a Saturday semifinal showdown with 2021 US Open champ Daniil Medvedev in the Southern California desert.
Playing his first seeded opponent at the 12-day event, Tiafoe set the tone early by hugging the baseline and attacking Norrie at every opportunity. After winning the opening set in style without facing a break point, he built a 5-2 lead in the second before serving out the match to love on his second attempt.
"I'm using my speed a lot more to be aggressive, not just to react to balls and out of the corners and stuff," Tiafoe said of his successful gameplan, speaking in his post-match press conference. "I'm doing that much better now. Using my speed to be aggressive, coming forward much more, sticking volleys, and just being athletic out there.
"It's tough for guys. I'm really coming at you. He didn't have any response for me today. Cam's going to be Cam and make it tough for me at the end. I blinked a little there at the end, but for the most part I thought it was one-way traffic."
The No. 14 seed continues to build confidence with each victory, and he will need to be at his very best against Medvedev, who carries an 18-match and three-tournament winning streak into the semifinals. The fifth seed holds a 4-0 head-to-head advantage against Tiafoe, but will enter the match with some health concerns after rolling an ankle and cutting open the tip of his right thumb during his past two matches.
Looking ahead to their matchup, Medvedev was full of praise for the American fan favorite: "He's playing great. Frances is a very pumped-up, fiery player, so he can beat anyone on a good day," he said. "I'm sure he can beat Novak, Rafa. He actually did beat Rafa in the US Open, which is huge. For sure I need to try my best to keep this head-to-head at zero. That's never easy and I just have to show my best tennis and try to beat such a great opponent."
Coco Gauff also competed in singles quarterfinal action on Wednesday, but the 19-year-old was turned back by reigning Australian Open champion and second seed Aryna Sabalenka, 6-4, 6-0.
While she was disappointed with the defeat, Gauff can look forward to a return home to South Florida for next week's Miami Open.
"It's nice to go home and reset, definitely. It's really the only stop on tour where that happens," said the Delray Beach resident.
"I'm getting lucky, Billie Jean King Cup is also home, but that's the only stop I guess where that happens. But it would have been even better to come off a win coming home; that would have been even sweeter. It's a good way either way. I'm glad that Miami is next and I'm looking forward to that."
In Wednesday doubles action, defending and two-time champions John Isner and Jack Sock closed play on the Indian Wells stadium court with a 6-2, 6-4 win against Italians Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli. The Americans will next meet Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden in Friday's semifinals, with the doubles final set for Saturday.
On Thursday, world No. 5 Taylor Fritz will continue his BNP Paribas Open title defense when he meets Italy's Jannik Sinner in an afternoon quarterfinal. Should he advance to the semis, Fritz could set a date with top seed and reigning US Open champ Carlos Alcaraz, who faces Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarters.