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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Daniil Medvedev beat Frances Tiafoe 7-5, 7-6 (4) on Saturday for his 19th straight match win of the year and a berth in the BNP Paribas Open final.
Medvedev will play for the title on Sunday against top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz, who defeated 11th-seeded Jannik Sinner 7-6 (4), 6-3.
Alcaraz must win the title on Sunday to reclaim the world No. 1 ranking from Novak Djokovic. The Serbian, a five-time Indian Wells champion, withdrew before the start of the tournament after he was denied entry to the US because he had not been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Medvedev, the fifth seed, continued his dominance over Tiafoe, winning all five of their career meetings, including 12 of 13 sets in the process.
“In general, I played at a really great level, but if I don’t win this match, I would have nightmares for a long time with all the opportunities I had,” Medvedev said in an on-court TV interview after the match. “Six or seven match points and twice (I) served for the match. But I’m happy that I won. Now I can sleep well tonight and prepare for tomorrow.”
Medvedev’s winning streak dates back to his title race in Rotterdam in February. He then won tournaments in Doha and Dubai. Now the 2021 US Open winner and former world No. 1 is in position to add another title.
Medvedev proved resilient during the 12-day tournament in the Southern California desert. He overcame a badly sprained ankle and a cut thumb in two consecutive matches to reach the finals.
Alcaraz played with Medvedev only once, in the second round of Wimbledon 2021. Medvedev won in three sets. Alcaraz said his biggest concern with the 6-foot-6 Medvedev is his height.
“He’s really, really tall, you know,” said Alcaraz, who is 6-foot. “What can I say? I think he’s only lost one match this year. He’s on a great streak and it’s going to be a really tough challenge for me to play against him tomorrow. I’m going to enjoy the final and let’s see what happens.”
Last year, Alcaraz won the Miami Open and the US Open. On Sunday, he can win the third of three major American tournaments. After winning his first Grand Slam title in New York, 19-year-old Alcaraz became the youngest male No. 1 in history. In January, he lost the first place in the ranking to Novak Đoković.
Alcaraz won Saturday on the strength of his first serves (72% of them, compared to Sinner’s 50%), his creative play and his ability to move Sinner around the court and take control of the tempo of the game from his opponents.
Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova won the women’s doubles title with a 6-1, 6-7 (3), 10-7 win over Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil and Laura Siegemund of Germany.
The Czech duo improved to 11-0 this year, winning the Australian Open in January. They shared $436,730 in prize money.
ESPN’s Alyssa Roenigk and The Associated Press contributed to this report.