Daniil Medvedev showed further signs of improvement at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, backing up his opening-round victory over versatile grad Denis Shapovalov at Bottic van de Zandshulp.
The 26-year-old defeated Canadian Shapovalov 7-5, 7-5 in one hour and 45 minutes to reach his second ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final of the season. The top seed suffered a second-round loss to Nick Kyrgios in Montreal last week, but is looking back at his best on the Cincinnati courts.
Medvedev hit a flat backhand with consistency, standing behind the forehand to absorb Shapovalov’s left serve on the return and surge ahead to improve their ATP Head2Head series to 3-2.
“The game was very tight. I felt it was a very good level. I felt he lacked a little bit more than me, but he’s scoring more points, but that’s the way Shapo plays,” Medvedev said in an on-court interview. “My goal was to stay there as much as possible and try and put pressure on him when I got the chance. But there were a lot of points where I was running over the start trying to return his shots. Overall I’m happy with the ranking.
Indian Wells will play American Taylor Fritz, a 14-time tour-ranked winner after beating defending champion Andrey Rublev in three sets.
“Taylor is a very good player. We were beaten many times. We had a session before the ATP Cup and I think he beat me, but it didn’t matter, but I said to the coach, ‘Wow, he can play well, it could be a good year for him’. Then he won Indian Wells,” Medvedev said. He said: “Maybe he could have done better in other tournaments but it’s the Masters.  Champion. He is an amazing player and I have to try and do everything I can to beat him.
With the win, Medvedev improved his record in Ohio to 13-4. The 26-year-old picked up his first Masters 1000 crown at the hard-court event in 2019 before making a run to the semi-finals last season. He is looking to capture his second title of the season this week after winning in Los Cabos earlier this month.
Medvedev was confirmed at No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on Wednesday following his second-round loss to Rafael Nadal.
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In the first clash of a hard fought match, Shapovalov constantly tried to pull Medvedev around the court, dancing the ball and hitting his hands to the corners. However, the top seed have become renowned for their ability to dig deep and absorb pressure and this was on display at key moments.
Medvedev’s relentless earthquake forced Shapovalov to over-hit in the 11th game of the first set as Shapovalov got the decisive break as the Canadian made one unforced error on serve. At 5-5. Medvedev then broke through in the final service game.
Medvedev’s defensive skills frustrated Shapovalov throughout the match and it showed in him. Insights: Steal points. The top seed has won 39 percent of his points when defending, which is higher than the Tour average of 34 percent. This was in contrast to Shapovalov, who scored only 23 percent of the points when he was on the back foot.
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Shapovalov had his first back-to-back win since May when he defeated Tommy Paul to reach the third round in Cincinnati. However, he failed to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in Ohio, defeating Medvedev.