Nitto ATP finals – Day 5 & 6
Group “Tokyo ’20” – Day 6
Daniil Medvedev d. Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3 [1:13 h]
Medvedev tactically played a perfect match. Two weeks ago he had defeated Schwartzman 6-3, 6-1 in Paris, so feeling such an advantage over ~30 cm shorter opponent indoors, and actually playing “an exhibition match” the most important thing it was not to waste too much energy before a demanding confrontation against Rafa tomorrow. Once the Russian established a 3:1* lead he fully controlled the rest; I noticed that among 18 games they played, he didn’t care in three at all (two in the opener, one in the 2nd set). His serve was working very well (35% of points directly behind the serve) as well as his ground-strokes. “I was playing great in the two previous matches. I think it is always good to stay undefeated for the confidence. I wanted to win the match, so I am really happy that I have done it,” said Medvedev in an on-court interview. “I was serving really good today, so that helped me a lot throughout all the match.” Before the tournament I expected Schwartzman to win 4-6 games in just one of his six lost sets, and it almost happened (Zverev lost the plot a bit as he missed a casual forehand leading 6-3, 3:1 ‘deuce’ against the Argentinian).
Average serve speed: Medvedev 199/160 kph, Schwartzman 169/141 kph… Total points: 65-49
Novak Djokovic d. Alexander Zverev 6-3, 7-6(4) [1:36 h]
Similarly to yesterday’s evening match (Nadal-Tsitsipas) it was like a quarterfinal – the winner was supposed to advance to the semifinals being aware of his next opponent, and again the great champion controlled his destiny against a young player who only aspires to be a great one in the future. Zverev surprised me a bit because he won the toss, yet elected to receive (did the same against Medvedev). He didn’t feel his body well enough after Djokovic’s first service game though; maybe he wanted to avoid being broken in the opening game, it haunted him anyway. The Serb quickly led 3:0* and there was no other break to the end of the match. In the 2nd set the German led 5:4 (deuce) and 6:5 (30-all), but Djokovic delivered good serves then, and came back from a *0:2 deficit in the first tie-break of their six meetings (Djokovic leads 4:2). ”I felt great. Early in the first set he had a couple of break point chances. I managed to serve well in the important moments and contrary to the last match against Daniil, I just managed to find the right shots at the right time,” said Djokovic. “Sascha, I have tremendous respect for him. He’s a great player, huge serve. Obviously not easy to return the 140 miles per hour first serves.” Djokovic’s equalled Rublev’s 41 matches won this year and Becker’s nine appearances in the semifinals of the season-ending championships, previously known as Masters.
Average serve speed: Djokovic 195/156 kph, Zverev 209/167 kph… Total points: 70-65
Group “London ’20” – Day 5
Rafael Nadal d. Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 [2:03 h]
Their previous two matches where very tight, Nadal won 6-7, 6-4, 7-5 last year in London, one month later 6-7, 7-5, 7-6 in an exhibition event in Arabia. The first two sets suggested that another tight decider would be required. They held many times easily; Nadal got the only break of the opener at 4-all, Tsitsipas his first break of the match at 5:4 in the 2nd set. The decider began with three breaks of serve though, Nadal broke to lead 2:1 with the help of phenomenal backhand overhead (gave him 30/0). The Spaniard broke again at 4:2 and ousted the defending champion with a backhand down the line winner. Nadal won 11 of 15 times when he charged the net, losing as many as three actions of this type in the crucial game of the 2nd set, but every time he was forced to play very difficult volleys. “I still won two matches like last year,” Nadal said. “Last year, I was a little bit unlucky not to be in the semi-finals. The year before I had to pull out. It is always difficult to play here against the best players in the world every single day [at the] end of the season. Most of the time, you get here a little bit tired, but this year is a little bit different… I am just excited to be in the semi-finals and I hope to be ready to try my best.”
Average serve speed: Nadal 191/163 kph, Tsitsipas 203/164 kph… Total points: 84-67
Andrey Rublev d. Dominic Thiem 6-2, 7-5 [1:14 h]
Rublev – winner of the most titles (5) this year – finished the best season of his career in very good style. I considered him as a favourite because Thiem, who had lost two previous meetings to Rublev, has already advanced to the semifinals as a group leader, so the question was: will they both play in exhibition mode or just the Austrian? As I expected, Thiem delivered 80-90% mode while the Russian was trying to give his best from start to finish. He quickly jumped to a 4:0 lead. In the 2nd set he led 4:2*, but Thiem broke back thanks to forehand errors of the Russian. Thiem even led 5:4 when Rublev held in his most convincing fashion. At 5-all Thiem led 40/0 to be broken, in that game occurred the best baseline rally, so I cannot exclude that Thiem wanted to play a decider. Rublev finished his season with an ace out-wide. “I feel happy to be here,” he said. “I was so close in my second match. I had match point and I was serving, so it could have been a completely different story if I won two matches. I would maybe still have a chance to be in the semi-finals… It is a part of life, [I] just need to keep working and we will see what is going to happen next.” Three things Thiem did in this match he usually doesn’t do: faster second serves, more frequent & rather careless attacks to the net behind the serve & casual dropshots.
Average serve speed: Rublev 198/151 kph, Thiem 195/172 kph… Total points: 69-53
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