Rafael Nadal storms back to beat Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Finals
The world No 1 saved a match point and came back from 5-1 down in the final set to secure victory
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 14/11/19 11:07pm
Rafael Nadal saved a match point and came storming back from 5-1 down in the deciding set to beat Daniil Medvedev 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 7-6 (7-4) at the year-end ATP Finals in London.
The world No 1, who fell in straight sets to Zverev in his opening match on Monday, showed true grit and tenacity to find his way back into a final set that had the possibility of being lost to love at one stage.
Medvedev, a debutant at the competition in London, had not beaten Nadal in his career and with the possibility of doing so, lost his way in the closing stages.
In contrast, the world No 1 never lost his own belief and now keeps his hopes alive at the year-end tournament, one that he has not won in his career.
After Novak Djokovic's loss to Dominic Thiem on Tuesday evening, all of the conversation surrounding Nadal ahead of this match was about the ways in which he might hold onto his world No 1 ranking for year-end.
Rafael Nadal will finish as year-end world No 1 if....
|He wins the tournament|
|He makes the final with two round-robin wins|
|He makes the final with one round-robin win and Djokovic does not win the tournament|
|He wins at least one round-robin match and Djokovic does not win the tournament|
However, the Spaniard quickly showed his focus was on the present and that it would need to be in the face of the man who duelled with him for the US Open crown in September.
Nadal looked buoyant from the off and clearly had refound his rhythm on the forehand side, something that was his Achilles heel against Zverev.
On the other side of the net, Medvedev initially stayed calm in the face of the wave of physicality that was being directed his way. The two went toe to toe in the first set and it remained on serve for 46 minutes before they continued their battle by going point-for-point in the tiebreak.
Neither man gave an inch until Medvedev created the mini break to edge 5-3 in front. He then forced an error from the Spaniard and converted his first set point to take the tiebreak 7-3.
After the pause between sets, Nadal commenced the second with a break of his opponent's serve. He roared as he did so and duly consolidated that break with a hold. The duo then moved back into a familiar pattern of holds until the ninth game.
Nadal had a look at two set points early on before Medvedev pulled him back to deuce. An untimely double fault for the Russian gave Nadal a third set point and the Spaniard closed it out 6-3.
The decider was a set of tennis that few could have predicted. Medvedev raced away into a 4-0, and then 5-1 lead, as he made Nadal cover every inch of the court and looked like nothing was going to stop him en route to victory.
But, the world No 1 showed a Grand Slam winner's mentality as he saved a match point at 5-4 down, levelled the clash at 5-5, and then forced a match-deciding tiebreak.
In the tiebreak, he had the courage to move into the net to finish a crucial point with a clutch backhand volley at 4-4 and his pressure on Medvedev created costly errors.
The result was, at the first time of asking, Nadal retained his unbeaten record over the Russian and subjected him to yet another painful loss as the memories of their US Open final were just starting to subside.
Nadal took his chance
Honestly I've been super lucky. Sorry for Daniil, that's a tough loss, he was playing much better than me in the third set but this was one of those one in 1,000 that you win. I played much better today than two days ago, so that is a big positive for me.
The victory for Nadal puts the pressure back on Djokovic as the Serb must now win the title to have a chance of overhauling the Spaniard at the top of the world rankings. Djokovic faces Federer next on Thursday.
Medvedev blames poor attitude
I just need to close out such matches. I mean, yeah, probably need to still continue working mentally as I do every day to be better. Today was not the case. I mean, there were many things to tell not good about my mentality on the court, my attitude. So hopefully I'm not going to have matches like this in my career, but we never know. I'm going to try my best to not have them.
Stats of the match
Rafael Nadal vs Daniil Medvedev: Match Stats
|72%||1st serve win percentage||75%|
|58%||2nd serve win percentage||54%|
|4/9||Break points won||2/6|
|108/213||Total points won||105/213|
Nadal will finish the round-robin stage when he meets Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday while Medvedev must dust himself off and face Alexander Zverev.