Daniil Medvedev tied his Nitto ATP Finals semi-final against Rafael Nadal at 3-6, 7-6 (4) to force a decisive set on Saturday night. The winner will play Sunday against Dominic Thiem for the title of the season finale.
Nadal surprisingly missed the opportunity to serve the game at 5-4 in the second set, hitting a forehand to his back foot to give up his advantage. Medvedev took full advantage of it, playing aggressively to win the tie-break.
Nadal is chasing the biggest trophy missing from his collection. The left-hander, who is trying to reach his third final at the year-end championships, has won 71 straight games after winning the first set.
Medvedev was 0-3 in his tournament debut last year, but he was perfect 3-0 in the Tokyo 1970 group game to reach the semi-finals. He may become the fourth player to triumph in this event after a winless debut.
Nadal leads the ATP Head2Head pair 3-0 series, but their games have been full of drama. Last year in the Nitto ATP final, the Spaniard saved match point and overcame a 5-1 third set deficit against Medvedev to triumph in the round robin. They also faced each other in a thrilling five-set US Open final last season, with Nadal coming out victorious after four hours and 51 minutes.
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It was Medvedev who shot, making his first 16 serves of the game and putting pressure on Nadal’s serve, winning three break points in his second second leg. But at 3-3 in Game 1, Medvedev missed his first four serves and paid it off, breaking out of love. Nadal was impeccable as he advanced, scoring five-on-five at net in the first set.
But the world No.2 played a sloppy first serve game of the second set, hitting a rare double fault to concede a break. Medvedev blurted out his advantage and then gave up a second break by hitting a forehand volley straight to Nadal, and it looked like Nadal would jump on the rematch against Thiem, who beat him in the London 2020 group game on Tuesday. .
But Medvedev, who is full of confidence after winning his third ATP Masters 1000 title at the Rolex Paris Masters, has maintained his focus. Nadal started to make some unusual mistakes and the Russian applied even more pressure staying on the baseline in key moments. Medvedev had 10 aces in straight sets and made 73% of his first serves.
Did you know?
Thiem beat world number 1 Novak Djokovic and Nadal en route to the final. If Medvedev defeats Nadal, he will have accomplished the same feat.