Daniil Medvedev's clay-court game keeps improving. (More Tennis News)
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 after losing his opener in his 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. His semifinal opponent will be Stefanos Tsitsipas, who defeated Borna Coric 6-3, 6-4 to reach the last four in Rome for the third time.
Last year, Tsitsipas lost the final to Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic was eliminated on Wednesday by Holger Rune, who faces Casper Ruud in the other semifinal.
Tsitsipas has not dropped a set in his four matches, having eliminated two local hopes, Lorenzo Sonego and Lorenzo Musetti.
It will be Medvedev's first semifinal on clay since reaching the final in Barcelona more than four years ago.
Medvedev has long been a threat on hard courts, having won the 2021 U.S. Open and reached three other finals between the U.S. 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 2017-20.
This year's French Open starts in 10 days and there's room for a new champion after 14-time winner Rafael Nadal announced that he won't be competing in the tournament because of a lingering hip injury that has sidelined him since January.