Zverev eliminates Nadal from ATP Finals by overcoming Medvedev

Zverev eliminates Nadal from ATP Finals by overcoming Medvedev

The reigning champion will meet Dominic Thiem in Saturday's semifinals after coming through against the Russian, 6-4, 7-6 (4).

For Alexander Zverev, 2019 has not quite played out as he envisioned. Yet through his struggles, on and off the court, the German scrapped through to give himself a shot at retaining the ATP Finals crown.

In the final round-robin match at The O2, Zverev handled the pressure of the win-and-in situation by defeating Daniil Medvedev, 6-4, 7-6 (4), on Friday evening in London. As a result, the 22-year-old dashed Rafael Nadal’s hopes of winning the event for the first time, and set a semifinal meeting with Dominic Thiem. The Austrian leads their head-to-head series 5-2 and claimed their lone indoor hard-court encounter in 2017 at Rotterdam.

"He had nothing to lose. For me, it was a must-win situation to go through," Zverev said on-court afterwards. "He's probably been the best player in the world over the summer. I played two great matches [this week]. I still got to improve. It doesn't get easier now." 

Last month, Medvedev took down Zverev in the Shanghai final to cap off a remarkable stretch of contesting six successive hard-court finals. It was the first time Zverev had lost to the Russian in five meetings, though he admitted Medvedev was a far superior version of himself.  

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Medvedev entered Friday’s clash with three straight losses and started poorly, relinquishing the lone break point of the set with a forehand error in the opening game. Zverev showed few signs of nerves, and other than a slight lapse in concentration at 5-4, was composed as he powered his way to a one-set lead with a barrage of first serve rockets.

Both players continued to befuddle the returner, as service games zipped by in the second set. After double faulting with an aggressive second serve at 4-4, 30-30, Medvedev brought what he displayed all summer long—pinpoint accuracy and unapologetic freedom—to ensure the match prolonged. Zverev showed a willingness to come forward with Medvedev maintaining a position well behind the baseline, a tactic that was effective throughout the battle.

In the tiebreaker, Medvedev secured the first mini break with a terrific backhand lob, but incorrectly stopped play to challenge on the ensuing point. Zverev got a second dose of help when the world No. 4 pushed a serve long to fall behind 5-3, and closed out the victory on his first match point.