Medvedev shows clay growth, into Italian semis

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ROME — Daniil Medvedev’s clay-court game keeps improving.

First came a run to the French Open quarterfinals in 2021. Then an appearance in the fourth round at Roland Garros a year ago.

Now, the third-ranked Russian is making big strides at the Italian Open.

Medvedev beat German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann 6-2, 6-2 on Thursday to reach the semifinals in Rome. Medvedev had lost his opening match in three previous appearances at the Foro Italico.

“I said before the tournament that I was feeling really great in practice,” Medvedev said. “It’s always a danger to say this, because when you lose the first round you’re going to be, ‘Why did I say this?’ But I’m proving it. I feel great.”

On an overcast day, Medvedev controlled play with his flat groundstrokes and big first serve to the end the run of Hanfmann, who upset Monte Carlo Masters champion Andrey Rublev in the previous round after also taking out ninth-seeded Taylor Fritz.

Medvedev has dropped only one set in four matches and is seeking his fifth title of the season.

His semifinal opponent will be either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Borna Coric, who were playing later.

Medvedev has long been a threat on hard courts, having won the 2021 US Open and reached three other finals between the US Open and Australian Open, which propelled him to the No. 1 ranking. But he struggled with four consecutive first-round exits at Roland Garros from 2017 to 2020.

This year’s French Open starts in 10 days.

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