Novak Djokovic vs. Daniil Medvedev

At the start of the week, it would have been hard to imagine that a match between Djokovic and Medvedev, two players who each spent time at No. 1 this season, would have no bearing on the tournament at hand.

But their fates diverged this week. Djokovic powered through two straight-set wins over Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, while Medvedev was handed two crushingly close defeats by those same two opponents. Against Rublev, Medvedev lost 9-7 in a third-set tiebreaker; against Tsitsipas, he lost in another third-set tiebreaker, after tightening up when he served for the match at 5-4.

The result is that Djokovic has already qualified for the semifinals, while Medvedev has been eliminated. Still, any match between these two is worth watching. The last time they played, in the semifinals in Astana last month, they were reaching fifth gear when Medvedev suddenly retired at one set apiece.

If any two players can create interesting, lengthy rallies on Turin’s fast surface, it’s these two masters of the offensive-defensive blend. Last year, though, Djokovic beat Medvedev by serving and volleying, a tactic that Tsitsipas successfully employed against the Russian this week. Will we see Djokovic go back to it again? If so, will we see Medvedev finally make the necessary adjustments? There may not be drama in this one, but there should be nuance. Winner: Djokovic

Tsitsipas won his most recent meeting with Rublev last month in Astana.

Tsitsipas won his most recent meeting with Rublev last month in Astana.


Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Andrey Rublev

Winner-take-all matches are among the highlights of the round-robin year-end championships, and we’ve had two of them this week. On Thursday, Felix Auger Aliassime and Taylor Fritz squared off for a spot in the semifinals; on Friday Tsitsipas and Rublev will do the same.

Each has had the same experience so far in Turin: A straight-set loss to Djokovic, and a third-set-tiebreaker win over Medvedev. Each has also adjusted well to the quick courts, and, for the most part, found a productive way to balance aggression with margin.

Against Medvedev, Tsitsipas did it by serving and volleying. That tactic doesn’t seem quite as viable against Rublev, who stands closer in to receive serve, and who can rifle returns from both sides. But Tsitsipas must feel as if he has that option in his back pocket now, in a way he normally doesn’t.

As for Rublev, the question remains the same: Can he protect his greatest weakness, his second serve? The courts help by adding a little pace, and, aside from a 6-1 second-set loss to Djokovic, he has served well this week.

Tsitsipas leads the head to head 6-4, and he has won their two meetings in 2022, in Astana and Madrid, both times in three sets. Each of these guys has been in good form at this event, but I’d give the slight edge to Tsitsipas. He fought to make the second set close against Djokovic, and he bounced back from a tough second-set loss to Medvedev. He’ll give it everything, even if he falls behind early. Winner: Tsitsipas