Rafael Nadal’s wait for a first victory in the ATP final continues for at least a year after his fall in the semifinals to Daniil Medvedev in London
The world number two has 86 singles titles, including 20 majors, to his credit, but the end-of-season showdown is not counted among his honors, and it was Medvedev who progressed to a final with last year’s runner-up, Dominic Thiem thanks to a 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 hit
Medvedev was in relentless form, though Nadal pulled out his entire repertoire of shots to take the lead in the opener before recovering from 4-1 in the second set tie-break
In the end, however, Medvedev had too much and, after clinching the second set, kept the momentum going to break twice into the decider and claim his first victory over Nadal.
The Medvedev machine passes Nadal!
Will he go all the way on Sunday? @TennisTV | @DaniilMedwed | #NittoATPFinals picTwittercom / EldpQpAFRV
After an aggressive start, Medvedev had three chances to take a break in game three, but the Russian didn’t take the opportunity to sneak past
Nadal, however, didn’t make such a mistake five games later as he built an excellent rally from the baseline before luring world number four Medvedev in a forehand.
The set was concluded in favor of Nadal on the first request, but Medvedev responded with force and a double fault from Nadal gave him the next break
Medvedev had a second break in his sights with a 4-1 lead, but a failed backhand on the pitch gave Nadal a reprieve, and the 34-year-old hammered a venomous serve
An emphatic Medvedev ace saved a break point, but a pair of volleys put Nadal on the front foot, with the left-hander then hitting a cross forehand past his opponent
Further clinical shots brought Nadal to Nadal’s level and what seemed like a crucial break followed – the 13-time Roland Garros champion lifting a tricky lob down the line after Medvedev came close on the net
Still, Nadal went from serve to win the game to serve to stay in the set within nine points
Nadal kept his cool to force a tie-break, in which some luck with a lob saw Medvedev take a 6-3 lead, the set sealed in his favor on the second set point
The intensity continued in the decider, blow after blow traded until Medvedev – on his third chance – broke with a powerful comeback, forcing Nadal to serve to stay in the game
But Medvedev had the answer for whatever his opponent threw at him and, after a perfect forehand with a match point, victory was assured when a tame shot from Nadal hit the net
Rafael Nadal, Nadal, Dominic Thiem
World news – UA – Rafael Nadal faces Daniil Medvedev in ATP finals