Last year, Daniil Medvedev wasn’t able to open his win account at London and look how the tables turn this year: He is into the final and is undefeated in the tournament! After a thrilling three-set victory against Rafael Nadal on Saturday evening, the World No. 4 is one match from becoming the undefeated 2020 champion.
Rafa Nadal served for a straight-sets victory at The O2 in London, but Medvedev rallied for a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 triumph to reach the championship match at the season finale. The Russian, who has won nine consecutive matches, will play Dominic Thiem for the title.
“I felt really strange until 5-4 for him in the second set, when he was serving for the match,” Medvedev said in an on-court interview. “It felt like I was doing great shots but there was no link in my game and that was why I was losing. He was better in the important moments, I couldn’t return in the important moments, I couldn’t make a good shot in the important moments.
“I decided to change some small things. Just being closer, going for it a little bit more. I felt like I had the chances to win before [in] some games, a set maybe, but it didn’t work, so I had to change and it worked really well. I am really happy about it.”
Medvedev can become the fourth player to triumph at the year-end championships following a winless debut. Nadal entered the match on a 71-match winning streak after taking the opening set, but 24-year-old snapped that run with a gritty mental and physical performance over two hours and 36 minutes.
Medvedev and Thiem have defeated both World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and World no. 2 Rafael Nadal this week. For the Russian, it was his first ATP Head2Head victory against Nadal (1-3). Last year at The O2, Nadal saved a match point and rallied from 5-1 down in the deciding set of a round-robin match to defeat Medvedev.
“At the end of the [second] set I was playing a little bit better than him, and then in the 5-4 [game] I think he played a good game and I didn’t. I played a bad game. That’s it,” Nadal said. “But I had a big opportunity. I lost a big opportunity. Well done to him. He’s playing great. I wish him all the best.”
The Russian is not known for his play in the forecourt. But after letting slip two break points at 3-3 in the decider, he snuck into the net to put pressure on the lefty, ultimately earning the break with an overhead winner. He then earned a second break in the set to reach the final against Thiem, who leads their budding rivalry 3-1.
“Dominic is playing amazing right now. Already in the US Open when I lost against him, after the match I was sitting in the locker [room] and I was like, ‘I was playing good [in] this match.’ But he managed to do it, he won his first Grand Slam,” Medvedev said. “The first two times on Centre Court [I practised here] was with him. We had good rallies, it was a really good level of tennis and I said to my coach, ‘He can go far here.’ I don’t know if he said the same… but I am going to see him tomorrow.”