Medvedev edges Zverev to send Russia into ATP Cup final, Italy awaits

Medvedev edges Zverev to send Russia into ATP Cup final, Italy awaits

The Russian survived some tense final moments to close out the German on Saturday. Meanwhile, Matteo Berrettini led the Italians past Spain in the other semifinal.

Top 10 stars Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev both battled back from a set down to win their singles matches on Saturday, sending Russia past Germany and into the final of the ATP Cup.

In the final, they’ll take on Italy, who also won both of their singles matches to take out Spain.

The only nation to field two Top 10 players, Russia was always going to be one of the favorites this week, but neither of their latest wins came easy. Beginning with Rublev, the No. 8-ranked Russian dropped the first set but stormed back to beat No. 37 Jan-Lennard Struff, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.

“In the first set I was really nervous and he was playing really well. He was attacking a lot and he was all over me—I couldn’t answer,” Rublev said. “In the second set I said, ‘If I’m going to play like this I’m going to lose, 6-3, 6-3, so I need to change, go for my shots and start to hit well.’ I raised my level, I started to play more aggressively and I started to move better, and that was the change.”

Medvedev had an even tougher task against Alexander Zverev, falling behind a set and a break at 6-3, 3-2. But he dug himself out of the hole, and after neither player budged on serve for the first 10 games of the third, Zverev double faulted to give Medvedev a chance to serve for it at 6-5.

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It was a marathon seven-deuce game, and Zverev had five chances to get back on serve and force a deciding tie-break. On his fourth match point Medvedev ripped a forehand up the line that Zverev couldn’t get back in the court, and the world No. 4 closed out the world No. 7, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.

“It was a crazy match,” Medvedev said after the two-hour, 37-minute battle. “I’m happy to win, even if many things I didn’t like, but the most important thing is to win for the country and be in the final.”

Medvedev has now won 13 matches in a row. He won his last 10 matches of 2020, picking up a Masters 1000 title in Paris and the biggest title of his career at the ATP Finals—and he’s 3-0 this week.

Even more impressive: nine of the wins during his streak have come against Top 10 players.

Just before Medvedev clinched Russia’s semifinal win over Germany on Rod Laver Arena, Italy sealed their own final-four victory against Spain on John Cain Arena, with Matteo Berrettini beating Roberto Bautista Agut, 6-3, 7-5. Fabio Fognini topped Pablo Carreno Busta earlier in the day, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling. Last year I couldn’t make it, so I’m really happy that the first time that I played we are into the final,” Berrettini said after closing out his win over Bautista Agut.

“The job is not done yet, but we are really happy for what is happening.”

Like Medvedev and Rublev, Berrettini is unbeaten this week, but he's gone a step further by not dropping a set in his four combined matches. The 2019 US Open semifinalist previously took down Dominic Thiem and Gael Monfils and teamed up with Fognini to defeat Austria in doubles.

Sunday's final starts with Rublev against Fognini, then Medvedev against Berrettini. The doubles will pit Russia's Evgeny Donskoy and Aslan Karatsev against Italy's Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori.