There always seems to be so much at stake when Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas face each other on a tennis court.
In fact, of their nine-match history, all meetings but one have come at the ATP Masters 1000, Nitto ATP Finals or Grand Slam level. Saturday’s matchup at the Western & Southern Open, what will be their 10th encounter, is no exception, a spot in the 2022 final hanging in the balance.
World No. 1 Medvedev holds a 7-2 advantage in the ATP Head2Heads.
“He’s one of the best,” said the No. 4 seed Tsitsipas, who advanced to his third consecutive Cincinnati semi-final via a tight 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-3 decision over 2013 finalist John Isner. “I’m going to have to play my game. Of course, an obstacle like Daniil is never easy, but I’m going to try to stay concentrated, try to approach my game in the most precise, best manner. I’ll let my tennis do the talking, and the rest will present itself if it’s something that I deserve.”
Medvedev, who’ll be the top seed at the US Open later this month, continues to prove himself in big moments. In his 7-6(1), 6-3 dismissal of American Taylor Fritz in the quarter-finals, he improved to 20-6 in tie-breaks at ATP Masters 1000 events.
“That’s great, because a tie-break is a funny thing,” said Medvedev, through to his first Masters 1000 semi-final of the year. “We call it a ‘lottery.’ I do think it’s that way a little bit. I remember when I had my crazy run in 2019 [when he reeled of six straight finals], I won a lot of tie-breaks  in a row. Then I remember a time in my career when I lost five or six in a row. Now I’ve won a lot again. I just try to do my best, play every point. For sure, you lose some, you win some. But 20-6 is a good record. I’m happy about it.”
Medvedev, a titlist here during that unheard-of run in 2019, claimed their most recent encounter, a 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 semi-final victory in January at the Australian Open.
“I’m happy with my level,” said the 26-year-old World No. 1. “If I can continue to play this way, and especially during the match raise my level, I can beat anybody.”
Medvedev leads the four semi-finalists in the INSIGHTS Steal metric, having won 34 per cent of his points from defence this week. Tsitsipas paces the pack in Conversion rate after seeing home 76.1 per cent of points from attack. The Greek also tops the chart with a 26.1 per cent In Attack score, which shows that he’s played more than a quarter of his shots in attack in reaching the semis. Learn more about INSIGHTS.
Limited to just nine matches in 2021, and only 16 thus far in 2022, Borna Coric is suddenly resembling the player who once climbed as high as No. 12 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Back in business after recovering from shoulder surgery, the 26-year-old Croat is through to his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in four years, having pushed aside the Top-10 likes of Rafael Nadal (7-6(9), 4-6, 6-3) and Felix Auger-Aliassime (6-4, 6-4).
Credit the work he’s put in outside of match play, especially on the serve. Against Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-finals, Coric hit eight aces to just one double fault, and won an astounding 97 per cent (31 of 32) of his first-serve points.
“I was serving a lot last week,” said Coric, who after an opening-round, 6-3, 6-2 loss to countryman Marin Cilic in Montreal, put in some serious hours on the practice court. “I took the risk with my shoulder. I never know how much I can serve, but I just took the risk and was practising really hard.”
Next up for Coric, who has surged 86 places to No. 66 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, is 9th seed Cameron Norrie of Great Britain. It marks the left-hander’s second career ATP Masters 1000 semi-final after winning Indian Wells last October.
“He’s a great competitor,” said Norrie, who is up to a career-high No. 9 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings and who can move to No. 8 with a title or runner-up finish. “He’s really got some good level. I’ve watched him quite a lot this week. He beat Rafa, obviously, the other day. He’s playing some of his top level. He’s won his matches very comfortably, so he’s going to be feeling pretty fresh and ready to go.”
The foes split their two previous meetings, with Norrie prevailing in the Round of 16 in Shenzhen in 2018, 6-4, 7-6(8), and Coric taking a 6-2, 6-2 second-round decision in Rome in 2019.
Starting the week at No. 152, Coric is the second-lowest-ranked Cincinnati semi-finalist since 1973 (No. 203 Byron Bertram, 1975).