Daniil Medvedev sent Rafael Nadal to pack his bags after a grueling scuffle in the ATP final in London on Saturday to stage a title match against Novak Djokovic conqueror Dominic Thiem. Spain’s world number two, who has never won the elite event in his illustrious career, hesitated serving for the match in the second set and was beaten 3-6, 7-6 (7/4) , 6-3. Earlier, US Open champion Thiem recovered from 4-0 in the third set tie-break against Djokovic to win 7-5, 6-7 (10/12), 7-6 (7/5 ).
Russian giant Medvedev – who has won nine in a row – put Nadal’s serve under intense pressure at the start of their evening game at the empty O2 Arena.
But he failed to make his chances count and a drop in his level allowed the Spaniard to pause to enjoy leading 5-3 before serving for the set.
Medvedev immediately found his goal early in the second set, winning his first service game to love before the two-time finalist in the event Nadal double-faulted to give the Russian a 2-0 lead.
Just when it looked like Medvedev was cruising, Nadal, 34, snapped twice to gain full control and stepped up to serve for the game.
But in another amazing twist, the 20-time Grand Slam champion played a botched match, allowing the Russian to come back into the match, and Medvedev won the eventual tie-break.
The deciding set rested on the seventh game – the Russian produced a winner at his third breaking point, again beating Nadal for the first time.
The Spaniard entered the game on a 71-game winning streak after winning the first set, but the 24-year-old broke that run with a gritty mental and physical performance in two hours and 36 minutes.
“I felt really weird until 5-4 for him in the second set, as he served for the game,” said the fourth seed, who lost all three matches on his tournament debut. end of season last year.
“I felt like I was making great shots but there was no connection in my game and that’s why I was losing. He was better in the important moments. I couldn’t come back in the important moments, I couldn’t take a good turn in the important moments.
“I decided to change a few things. Just to be closer, to go a little more. I felt like I had some chances of winning before (in) some matches, maybe a set, but it didn’t didn’t work, so I had to change it and it worked really well. I’m very happy with it. “
The agony of Djokovic
Thiem’s victory over Djokovic ended the world number one’s hopes of tying Roger Federer’s record of six titles in the eight-man event.
The 2019 finalist faced a psychologically difficult battle after wasting four match points in the second set tie-break.
But he was quickly back in the groove and recovered from a desperate situation in the last set tie-break, winning six straight points to win two match points, taking the second of those.
“It was definitely a mental battle,” Thiem said. “I got so tight in the second set tie-break, first of all because playing these legends will always be something special.
“And then playing for a final here at the ATP Finals is also something very special. I thought after my first big title in New York maybe I would be a little calmer but it was a error I guess.
The Austrian is only the second player in 2020 to win a tie-break against Djokovic, who entered the third set with a 15-1 record this season.
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