ATP Paris, France

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MATCH POINT: Medvedev moves into Paris quarterfinals

In the round of 16 of the 2020 Paris Masters, Daniil Medvedev saw an opening set get away from him against Alex de Minaur. He would shake it off by regaining control for a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 victory and eventually ran the table to not only win the title, but cap the year on a 10-0 run with the ATP Finals trophy in hand.

Back in the round of 16 Thursday, Medvedev found himself facing another 21-year-old upstart, and like last year, watched his first set go up in smoke. A loss to Sebastian Korda would end the US Open champion’s slim chances of finishing the year at No. 1, but he kept the scenario alive for another day by rallying in similar fashion, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.

"Indoor hard courts are always different surfaces. I feel like first tournament you play physically is demanding, so that's what I'm feeling right now," Medvedev told press. "The more matches you get, the more hours on court you get, like tournament matches, that's where it counts for your body and more you can get used to it. That's good I guess that I played a three-setter."

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Medvedev improved his 2021 record to 52-11 by taking the first-time meeting over Korda.

Medvedev improved his 2021 record to 52-11 by taking the first-time meeting over Korda.

After holding at love in his first service game, Korda began to feel the pressure at the line. The world No. 39 handled it handsomely to stay with the second seed, particularly in the sixth game when recovering from 0-40 by working the forehand side to finish points on his terms.

At 4-4, Medvedev fired an ace up the T to reach 40-15, all but appearing to get to the changeover unscathed—until he didn’t. A poor backhand drop shot led to Korda putting away a volley and a routine serve +1 ended with a pushed forehand unforced error A double fault set up Korda’s first break point, and he seized it when an ineffective serve-and-volley ploy from Medvedev left a crosscourt forehand pass for the taking.

"Never easy these moments because you feel like you kind of had control of the match, but you're one set to love down and can never know what's going to happen next," Medvedev would reflect afterwards.

He ensured Korda's swing of momentum didn’t carry over into a new set. Having wiped away a Love-30 opening to hold, Medvedev finally broke when the American’s forehand clipped the tape and landed wide. His rally tolerance was rewarded with a second break when Korda was late with a backhand redirect up the line, catching the net. Medvedev enjoyed an increased success rate with his initial deliveries, claiming 12 of 13 first-serve points over four games to get back on evening footing.

At 2-2, 30-40, Medvedev arguably struck the shot of the match to make his move, one that would prove to hold up. Korda knifed a backhand volley that sliced away from the deuce court, but Medvedev—in dangerous dialed-in Daniil mode—showed there isn’t any needle he can’t thread in dipping a low forehand past his 6’ 5’’ opponent. The crowd erupted, stood and didn’t stop there.

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Medvedev's crucial break in the deciding set was definitely earned.

As Medvedev prepared for his attempt to consolidate the break, an extended wave rang through the arena. Korda could only help but smile, taking in the atmosphere and clapping his racquet. Unfortunately for him, the remainder of the contest mostly belonged to Medvedev. Though he failed to serve it out, the Russian broke for the fifth time to end proceedings after one hour and 50 minutes.

Medvedev now awaits home hopeful Hugo Gaston. The 103rd-ranked qualifier erased a 5-0 deficit in the second set to upend Carlos Alcaraz, 6-4, 7-5.

"I actually won because they supported me from beginning to the end. Even when I had a letdown during the first or the second set, they were always cheering me," Gaston said in a French translation.

"Honestly, I have been playing tennis for this."

Earlier, Novak Djokovic, who is in the driver's seat to clinch a record-setting seventh year-end No. 1 finish this week, received a walkover into the last eight when Gaël Monfils withdrew prior to their match with an adductor strain.