Nitto ATP Finals (Turin) – Day 5 & 6

Green Group – day 6
Novak Djokovic d. (alt.)Cameron Norrie    6-2, 6-1    [1:06 h]
An exhibition match actually, but this last ’round robin’ meeting wasn’t similar to yesterday’s between Medvedev & Sinner at all. The difference in skills between Djokovic & Norrie is huge, and their first meeting reflected it. The Serb got an early break and was doing on court whatever he wanted being very relaxed. Great experience for Norrie after a tremendous season anyway. I don’t expect to see him in the Top 20 twelve months from now. “I tried not to think about tomorrow’s semi-final,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “It is not easy to walk on the court knowing you have already qualified and you know your opponent. I tried to be professional and I tried to give my best and I played really well. It was the first time we have played each other. I took the time away from Cameron. I analysed his game and knew the game plan and executed it very well.” Djokovic’s 14th appearance in the season-ending event, and for the 11th time he will play in the semifinals.
Points won directly behind the serve: Djokovic 11/38 (28%), Norrie 7/51 (13%)… Total points: 56-33
Casper Ruud d. Andrey Rublev    2-6, 7-5, 7-6(5)    [2:23 h]
Informal quarterfinal – the winner goes to the semifinal… Rublev was a big favourite having defeated Ruud in all their four previous meetings, including three on Ruud’s best surface – clay. Early on the Russian confirmed his superiority in their H2H, 6-2, *2:1 (40/15)… he lost his serve though, threw his racquet and it was the beginning of bad things to come for him. Ruud did the same what in his previous match vs Norrie – increased the speed of 1st and 2nd serves, and was trying to be more aggressive with his forehand running around his backhand on many occasions. He came back from a break down also in the decider (2:3), saved a mini-match point at 5-all, and fired two aces when it mattered the most on ad-court: first at 4:3 (down the T), then at 6:5 (out-wide). “The court is playing very fast and Andrey plays very fast,” Ruud said in his on-court interview. “He rips the ball harder than anyone on the Tour and serves very well on his first serve. We all want to play under control and with initiative, but it is not easy against Rublev because he makes you run all the time and play defensively all the time. I knew I had to fight fire with fire. On the big points I think I played quite smartly.” Ruud has won all his three matches this year which gone to the deciding 3rd set tie-break.
Points won directly behind the serve: Ruud 30/116 (25%), Rublev 36/92 (39%)… Total points: 98-110
Red Group – day 5
Daniil Medvedev d. (alt.)Jannik Sinner    6-0, 6-7(5), 7-6(8)    [2:29 h]
On paper it was a semi-exhibition encounter because regardless of the final outcome, Medvedev had secured the first place in his group while Sinner couldn’t advance to the semifinals. Sinner began poorly, but playing in front of the supporting crowd, he wanted to stay on the court as long as possible showing positive emotions in the 1st game of the 2nd set, and the match was tense since then to its conclusion two hours later. There was 5-all in the first tie-break when Medvedev chose a surprising solution and delivered a technical serve attacking the net (the previous five TB points he obtained with powerful serves) sending his block-volley wide. The decider was very intriguing: Sinner led 4:2* when Medvedev proposed an extremely fast game on his serve. He held after a few deuces playing at full speed 1st & 2nd serves. It changed the rhythm a bit, and a bunch of Sinner’s errors allowed Medvedev to break back. In the deciding tie-break, the young Italian had two match points on return: 6:5 (Medvedev’s second unreturned serve 201 kph!) & 8:7 (Medvedev’s FH drive-volley winner). Trying to save the second match point, Sinner was perhaps too passive during a baseline rally, and the Russian hit a backhand down the line winner.
Points won directly behind the serve: Medvedev 46/102 (45%), Sinner 21/104 (20%)… Total points: 111-95
Alexander Zverev d. Hubert Hurkacz    6-2, 6-4    [1:02 h]
A match to be quickly forgotten. Admittedly Hurkacz could give his all, win it after a tough battle, and still didn’t qualify to the semifinals (on the assumption he wins, Medvedev must have defeated Sinner to push the Pole to the last four), but there are 200 ATP points (more or less like advancing to a small ATP final) & prestige anyway. Unfortunately the Pole played it like he didn’t care, especially in the first ten minutes – the 1st set he played in a 70/80% mode, the 2nd in 80/90% – the score reflected it. Zverev went through the match actually not being threatened on his serve (one ‘deuce’ in nine service games). “I have played Novak in every single big hard-court tournament this year,” Zverev said about his upcoming semifinal against Djokovic “We are making a habit of playing in the later rounds at big tournaments. It is going to be an entertaining one I think.” Hurkacz has finished the event with a 1-6 record in sets (no chance to win any of those six lost), I don’t expect him to participate in this event again. I doubt that he would end up the 2022 season in the Top 20.
Points won directly behind the serve: Zverev 27/48 (56%), Hurkacz 17/54 (31%)… Total points: 61-41
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