Daniil Medvedev booked his place in the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals by battling to beat Alexander Zverev and record a second straight-sets victory in Turin.
Medvedev proved more clinical as he claimed a 7-6(7) 6-4 win to continue his bid to join Zverev in becoming a two-time champion at the season-ending event.
In doing so, the Russian took his overall record with a familiar opponent to 11-7 overall and 5-1 for the season.
“I saw the match today against Andrey and he played much better than in the first match. He was missing less and doing these amazing winners from far like he can,” Medvedev said.
“I hope I play well. I’m ready to fight. This tournament is tricky. I’m into the semis from the first place, but you want to keep the rhythm.
“Against Carlos, especially if you play at 9pm, you don’t want to finish 7-6 in the third set at midnight, so I just hope I can show my best tennis and you guys can enjoy it.”
A break in the opening game provided the perfect launchpad for Medvedev, who scampered to the net to pick off the German with the first of his two break points.
The third seed dropped just two points in his opening couple of service games in a one-sided start, but Zverev shook off his early wobbles to come roaring back into contention.
Zverev started to find his groove on serve with a couple of aces for 3-2 and then broke back at the third bite of the cherry to draw level at 3-3 and held – with another ace – to edge ahead for the first time in the match.
The momentum firmly in the German’s favour, Medvedev managed to arrest it by edging a 32-shot rally on his way to a vital hold that ended his three-game losing run.
From there, both players managed to avoid coughing up break points on serve to set up a tie-break that felt inevitable from this tightest of contests.
The shootout ebbed and flowed like the set leading up to it, as Zverev edged ahead early on with a mini-break from a Medvedev unforced error, before crushing a forehand into the corner to take a 4-1 lead.
But a mistake from the seventh seed on a seemingly simple putaway denied him a four-point lead and Medvedev began to reel him in with some big hitting.
However, the Russian’s errors also continued as a wayward smash handed Zverev set point, but Medvedev saved it, before saving a second as the clock hit the hour mark.
Zverev hit his racket off the ground in frustration when he missed a forehand to go 8-7 behind and it was a sign of bad things to come for the German as he made a mess of another volley at the net to hand Medvedev the opener.
After a tit-for-tat battle of a first set, the two players raced through the second with a string of comfortable holds.
There was not even a suggestion of a break point in the opening six games as the pair dominated behind their serves, although Zverev gave the crowd – and himself – a moment to chuckle about when he made a mess of an attempted tweener at 2-2.
Eight games were raced through in half an hour before Zverev finally got a sniff when Medvedev dropped a shot into the net to cough up the first break point of the set, only to shank a backhand wide and lose the chance.
Next it was Zverev’s turn to show some nerves as Medvedev tried to turn the screw while 5-4 up, taking a 30-0 lead on the German’s serve, but his opponent responded with a couple of big points.
Not to be deterred, Medvedev fizzed a backhand down the line to earn match point – and one was all he needed as Zverev shanked a forehand long to end a tight contest.
“It was a very tough match mentally, I started very well. He was not there yet but at one moment he stepped up his game and I for some reason started playing worse for a short period of time,” Medvedev said.
“I’m happy I managed to regroup and play better at the end of the first set and then the ending of both sets were very tight – at 4-4 I had break point, in the tie-break he has set point on his serve.
“I’m happy because lately and this year I might have lost some matches like this, where I thought I was very good before. I’m happy to still be able to win matches like this.”
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