On Friday at the Paris Masters, third seed Daniil Medvedev understandably was pleased when he took a seat for his virtual press conference. The 2019 US Open finalist produced a “level I want to be at all the time” in a performance that completely nullified Diego Schwartzman’s strengths as a returner.
Medvedev relinquished just five points on serve, with two coming via double fault, to overpower the No. 6 seed, 6-3, 6-1. With the win, the Russian remained undefeated in the pair’s head-to-head series by improving to 4-0.
“I think the most important in our matchup is the serve, because I'm able to return a lot of balls in the court, putting pressure on him, and able to hit some aces. That's the key, I think,” believes Medvedev. “Three times out of four, we played two times indoor hard courts, one time on grass. So I think [those are] the surfaces that Diego doesn't like. Still he made final two weeks ago, so he was in great shape here, good form.”
A frustrated Schwartzman managed just six winners to 24 unforced errors in dropping serve twice in each set. The Argentine won a single point on his opponent’s first serve in the 63-minute defeat.
“He was serving really well. Many, many first serves in the first set,” said Schwartzman. “But I think at the end I was not doing a solid match. And against Daniil, you have to put every single point, 15, 20 balls, not trying to do winners quickly and not trying to go to the net quickly.
“I think I didn't have the patience to do it today, so that's was the difference.”
The eighth-ranked Schwartzman had an opportunity to clinch his first trip to the ATP Finals with a win, but said that wasn’t on his mind when he took the court. That dream still came to fruition on Friday, as Schwartzman punched the final ticket to London when top seed Rafael Nadal eliminated the only other hopeful remaining, No. 9 seed Pablo Carreno Busta, with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory.
“Yeah, we were joking yesterday about the next tournament in Sofia, if he's going to play or if he's going to win this tournament. But, yeah, obviously I'm watching right now because I'm not in the tournament, and today maybe I hope Rafa win (smiling).”
LONDRES ????♂️????????✈️ alla vamos!!!— diego schwartzman (@dieschwartzman) November 6, 2020
Medvedev is seeking his third career ATP Masters 1000 title, after picking up a pair of crowns during his breakout 2019 campaign. The 24-year-old is aiming to get through to his first final since triumphing in Shanghai.
“When you have the down moments, that's when you also need to win matches. And that's where the Big 3 are just unbelievable, because no matter what their shape is, how bad they are playing the exact match, they almost all the time win it,” said Medvedev. “And that's what we need to learn, young guys, because that's experience, that's not easy. Talking about today's match, that's a match where I had my top form, and I'm happy about it.”
“I'm happy with the way I'm doing my things, and I just gotta turn things around and find the best in myself for tomorrow,” said Raonic. “He has a very good especially first serve, and I knew that was going to be tricky.”
After trailing 1-5 in the decisive tiebreaker, Raonic closed the gap to 4-6, where he prevailed in a stressful 30-shot rally with a closing volley to get back on serve. A few minutes later, the Canadian wrapped up the hard-fought contest with his 25th ace to move forward after two hours and 19 minutes.
“It was looking a little dark for me at the beginning, triple break point at the beginning, but then I created some opportunities. It kept me around,” assessed Raonic. “And it's something [that’s] happened maybe too many times before, things have slipped because I haven't taken that step forward mentally. And I just tried to do something better today.”
Raonic will be aiming to post his first win over Medvedev after losing their first two clashes. He has finished runner-up four times on the Masters 1000 stage, including to Novak Djokovic six years ago in Paris and at ‘Cincinnati in New York’ this past August—also at the hands of the Serbian.