Let’s get one thing straight. In a mano a mano, individualistic sport like tennis, revenge matches are real. At any level of any sport, it’s extremely difficult to defeat a quality opponent multiple times in a row. But when you factor in what Rafael Nadal has done to Daniil Medvedev in last year’s US Open final, as well as the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals, it’s tough to imagine Medvedev wanting to beat an opponent as badly as he’ll want to beat Nadal on Saturday.
After Medvedev fought back from two sets down to none to force a deciding fifth set at Flushing Meadows, Nadal ripped the Russian’s heart out, saved a break point at 5-4 in the fifth set, and ultimately prevailed, 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4. A few months later in Medvedev’s first ATP Finals appearance, Nadal fought back from down 5-1 in the third set to secure one of the more improbable victories of his career. One year later, the Russian will get to exact his revenge.
It’s not going to be easy, and while Nadal has brought a spectacular level of tennis to London, perhaps no one in the eight-man field is playing as well as Medvedev. After dispatching Alexander Zverev in straight sets in his opening round, Medvedev throttled world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, 6-3, 6-3, in one of the more comprehensive beatdowns of the Serbian’s career.
“He was just better, no question about it,” Djokovic said about Medvedev after the match.
The ATP Finals is not Nadal’s favorite tournament. Titleless in his nine previous tries, the Spaniard would love to add the elusive year-end championship to his incredible resume. To do so, he’ll need to find a way to hit through the in-form Russian, who is simply not missing at the moment.
According to the oddsmakers, Medvedev is a slight -125 favorite, which makes sense, as he’s cruised through his each of his three round-robin matches in straight sets.
In addition to the Russian’s incredible form, Nadal’s heavy crosscourt forehand will bounce right into the strike zone of the Russian’s best shot, his two-handed backhand.
Medvedev’s range is astounding, and to finally end the points, Nadal must finish the points at the net, like he did last year.
Anything can happen, of course, in a match between two phenomenal players. But it seems Medvedev is on a one-way track to capturing his first ATP Finals championship. Expect the Russian to finally exact his revenge and earn his first-ever victory over the Spaniard.
The Pick: Daniil Medvedev