Barty, Medvedev rise to challenge on tough day at Miami Open


March 31, 2021 12:17 AM

Aryna Sabalenka clearly labored in the final set of her match. Frances Tiafoe seemed to barely have the energy needed to reach the post-match handshake.

Conditions were tough at the Miami Open.

The top seeds, however, were up to the challenge.

World No. 1 Ash Barty of Australia won the final nine points to finish off the seventh-seeded Sabalenka in a three-set women's quarterfinal Tuesday, while men's top-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia reached the quarters with a straight-set win over Tiafoe — part of a rough day for the U.S. men's contingent.

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After some early clouds cleared out and bright sunshine starting pounding down, the mid-afternoon temperature reached the mid-80s Fahrenheit (upper 20s Celsius) at Hard Rock Stadium and the humidity made it feel even hotter.

Barty didn't wilt, ousting Sabalenka 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3 for her third three-set win in four matches at the tournament. Medvedev beat Tiafoe 6-4, 6-3, and has gone 10-1 in sets against the American in their past four head-to-head matchups.

“Everywhere in the world there are different conditions and at times it suits you more than other places,” Barty said. “I feel like these are very familiar conditions for me. With the heat and humidity, it’s very similar to Brisbane where I grew up and what I was born and bred and trained in my whole life.”

Barty faced seven break points in the match and saved them all. She’ll meet either No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina or Anastasija Sevastova in the semifinals; they will play later Tuesday in their quarterfinal matchup.

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Barty is now 18-3 in her past 21 three-setters, 10-1 in her past 11 quarterfinal matches and 12-3 in her past 15 meetings against fellow top-10 players. And she ran her winning streak in Miami to 10 matches.

“I enjoy these courts,” Barty said. “You know, I enjoy the balls and how they are responsive to spin. A lot of different elements. But, you know, there are a lot of places around the world that I enjoy playing, and here is one of them.”

Tiafoe was a quarterfinalist at Miami in 2019 and couldn't repeat that feat, nor John Isner. He wasted a match point during a third-set tiebreak and fell to seventh-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7).

Bautista Agut will face Medvedev in the quarterfinals. Medvedev had 11 aces and showed no signs of wear, two days after cramping in the heat during a third-round win.

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“I think we were both really tired, but I think we made an amazing show. ... I was really happy with my performance today," Medvedev said.

It was Isner’s earliest Miami exit since 2017, when he lost in the third round. He won the tournament in 2018 and lost the final in 2019 to Roger Federer in straight sets.

“He makes always difficult matches playing against him,” Bautista Agut said. “He has a very big serve and a lot of power from baseline with the forehand. It makes it always difficult, no?”

No. 26 seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland pulled off a mild upset, beating No. 12 Milos Raonic of Canada 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4).

No. 22 seed Taylor Fritz of the U.S. also bowed out, falling to No. 32 Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4. Bublik will face No. 21 seed Jannik Sinner of Italy in the quarterfinals; Sinner advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland.

“The serve was going well today," Bublik said.

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