Sydney SF previews and predictions: Paire vs. de Minaur, Fognini vs. Medvedev

Two intriguing clashes featuring established veterans against up-and-coming stars will take center stage during semifinal action on Friday in Sydney. Benoit Paire, Alex de Minaur, Fabio Fognini, and Daniil Medvedev are aiming for spots in the title match.

(SE) Alex de Minaur vs. Benoit Paire

Two weeks do not a season make, but they can make a name for someone. That is the case with de Minaur, who was basically an unknown commodity heading into 2018. Fast forward through a pair of tournaments (one still in progress) and de Minaur will now be one of the toasts of the town in Melbourne. He will also be No. 1 in the very early race to the Nitto ATP Finals if he captures the Sydney title. The 18-year-old Aussie reached the Brisbane semifinals and he is through to the same stage this week thanks to victories over Fernando Verdasco, Damir Dzumhur (via retirement), and Feliciano Lopez.

Up next for de Minaur on Friday is a second career meeting with Paire, who booked his place in the last four by taking out Aljaz Bedene, Leonardo Mayer, and defending champion Gilles Muller, dropping sets to Bedene and Mayer in the process. The 42nd-ranked Frenchman also reached a semifinal this past week, winning two matches before succumbing to Kevin Anderson. Paire is 0-1 lifetime against de Minaur, having lost in round one of this same Sydney tournament in a third-set tiebreaker last season. The youngster is even more confident now and his ultra-aggressive style may once against frustrate the volatile veteran.

Pick: de Minaur in 3

(Q) Daniil Medvedev vs. (4) Fabio Fognini

Fognini and Medvedev will also be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers on Friday. Their only previous contest came last summer on the hard courts of Cincinnati, where Fognini prevailed 7-6(5), 6-4. The 27th-ranked Italian looks unusually motivated in the early stages of 2018, with impressive wins this week over an in-form Alexandr Dolgopolov and fifth-seeded Adrian Mannarino.
Medvedev punched his ticket to the last four thanks to defeats of Philipp Kohlschreiber, Jared Donaldson (7-5 in the third), and Poalo Lorenzi. The 21-year-old Russian is coming off a breakthrough 2017 campaign in which he compiled 24 ATP-level match victories, having previously earned just five in his entire career. Fireworks will surely be on display in this battle between combustible characters, with a slight edge going to Fognini due to experience and his performances against even tougher competitors in Dolgopolov and Mannarino.

Pick: Fognini in 3

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