Rafael Nadal’s wait for a first ATP final victory continues for at least a year after collapsing in the semi-finals to Daniil Medvedev in London.
The world number two has 86 singles titles, including 20 majors, to his name, but the end-of-season showdown is not counted among his honors, and it was Medvedev who progressed to a final with vice -Last year champion Dominic Thiem with a 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 success.
Medvedev was in relentless form, though Nadal pulled out his entire repertoire of shots to take the lead in the opener before coming back 4-1 in the second set tiebreak.
In the end, Medvedev had too much and, after winning 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?
– ATP Tour (@atptour) November 21, 2020
After an aggressive start, Medvedev had three chances to break through in Game 3, 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 closed in Nadal’s favor 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 4-1, 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 southpaw then hitting a cross forehand past his opponent.
More clinical shots dragged Nadal to the 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 to 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.
Intensity continued in the decider, blow after blow traded until Medvedev – on his third chance – broke with a powerful return, 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, victory was assured when a tame shot from Nadal hit the net.
WINNERS / FORCED ERRORS
Medvedev – 42/22
Nadal – 30/30
ACES / DOUBLE FAULT
Medvedev – 3/13
Nadal – 3/3
BREAKING POINTS EARNED
Medvedev – 4/11
Nadal – 3/4
For in-depth, objective and above all balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine