What a difference a year makes. Daniil Medvedev went winless in last season’s Nitto ATP Finals, but on Friday he finished a perfect 3-0 run in the Tokyo 1970 group.
Medvedev beat tournament debutant Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3 to bring a lot of confidence to the semi-final, in which he will face world No.2 Rafael Nadal in a rematch of the US final. Open 2019.
Only three players have won the season finale the year after making their winless debuts at the prestigious event. Medvedev is only two wins away after becoming the fourth player in this elite squad.
The recent Rolex Paris Masters champion is known for his flawless defense, which he used to frustrate five-time champion Novak Djokovic in a straight-set win on Wednesday. But against the Argentine, he played with atypical aggression to triumph after an hour and 14 minutes.
Medvedev, the first Russian to play in the Nitto ATP final in consecutive years since 2009 titles list Nikolay Davydenko (2005-09), has yet to lose a set. He is the only undefeated player in group play.
The 24-year-old drives opponents crazy by playing well behind the baseline and putting them in awkward positions with his defense. But he signaled new intentions on center court against Schwartzman, beating for a 2-1 lead in the first set with a forehand winner down the line.
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Medvedev continued to attack throughout the game, frequenting the net. This left Schwartzman struggling to get answers, and he was never able to make enough runs with his serve to trouble the world No.4. The newbie only won 58% of his serve points and was broken three times.
Medvedev dominated with his first serve, winning 88% of those points. The three-time ATP Masters 1000 champion also saved the two breaking points he had to face.
The Russian now leads Schwartzman 5-0 in their ATP Head2Head series. He won 10 of their 11 sets, and the 10 sets he won came with a margin of 6-4 or more.
Schwartzman is ending the best season of his career with a 25-15 record. It was a year of firsts for the Argentinean, who rose to the Top 10 in the FedEx ATP rankings and reached his first Masters 1000 final among other achievements.