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Tiafoe quietly taking care of business at BNP Paribas Open

Frances Tiafoe is generally loud–with both his talking, his tennis, and at least this season his attire.

At the BNP Paribas Open, however, there has been no nonsense whatsoever. Tiafoe has advanced to his first semifinal Indian Wells barely breaking a sweat and–more surprisingly–barely making a sound. Given Daniil Medvedev’s winning streak and on-court histrionics, Taylor Fritz’s title defense, and Tommy Paul’s brutal but thrilling fourth-round loss to Felix Auger-Aliassime, there haven’t been many headlines for anyone else to make. Not even Tiafoe.

But the 25-year-old American wouldn’t have it any other way. Admittedly living the high life a little too much earlier in his career, he is all about results at this point in time.

“I was a young guy having money,” Tiafoe reflected following his 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Cameron Norrie in the quarterfinals on Wednesday afternoon. “I was enjoying my life–outside activities and stuff like that. Now I’m just honed it in.

“I think the main thing was these guys ahead of me, seeing guys I grew up with, playing juniors with, Andrey (Rublev), (Alexander) Zverev, and (Stefanos)Tsitsipas. ‘Am I just gonna let these guys take all the money out here for years to come?’ Because, I mean, I played these guys and beat them on the odd occasion, but I just wasn’t doing these kind of things and winning consistent matches. I was like, ‘Alright, something’s gotta give here.

“And I love this game too much to not figure it out. Yeah, hiring Wayne (Ferreira)…. He’s getting a tight team around me. (I’m) just holding myself accountable and just having that curiosity of how good I can be at this game. You know, I got a gift from the man above and I just want to see what I can do with this game. I owe it a lot.”

Tiafoe is certainly making the most of it this fortnight. Prior to upsetting Norrie, the world No. 16 erased Marcos Giron, Jason Kubler, and Alejandro Tabilo in routine fashion. He hasn’t dropped more than four games in any set.

“I think every win builds more and more confidence,” Tiafoe commented. “(I) get more and more comfortable. Here we are…. I just think the vibes all around. I’ve been super happy being here–the experience on and off court. I think getting three solid wins before today comfortably, I have a lot in the tank.”

He will need a full tank for his next match, as an on-fire Medvedev looms in the semifinals. The No. 5 seed has won 18 matches and three tournaments in a row–Rotterdam, Doha, and Dubai. Medvedev’s run includes a victory over top-ranked Novak Djokovic and three other top-10 wins.

Can anyone stop him? Fritz always plays well in Indian Wells, Carlos Alcaraz is healthy, Auger-Aliassime is oozing in talent, and Jannik Sinner is a huge hitter who is red hot right now.

But the first shot at Medvedev belongs to Tiafoe on Saturday. And maybe, just maybe, Tiafoe will be the one to stop him.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.