Shanghai | Medvedev and Zverev reach final
It was impossible to follow the drama of Friday’s upsets which saw both seeds make their exits leaving the field clear for the Next Gen to start establishing themselves.
Yes, my sixth straight final, Think it’s a great achievement. I’m proud of myself. Daniil Medvedev
At the top of the draw, the rivalry between Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas (Djokovic’s conqueror) was resumed with the odds favouring the Russian who had beaten the Greek in all their four previous meetings.
However, they had all been close and over the last few months his game had improved as his confidence grew, especially following his defeat of the Serb on the previous day.
As Medvedev put it: “Stefanos is improving every week. He’s still so young. He has two more years than me to improve.”
For the first eight games it was neck-and-neck as the two approached the game with a series of powerful exchanges. At 4-4 Tsitsipas looked to edge ahead when he held three breakpoints only to discover that Medvedev wasn’t about to concede his serve by producing five first class serves to hold.
Inevitably the set went into a tiebreak where again their respective serves looked impregnable until the 11th point when Medvedev finally broke through to go on and serve out.
The Russian maintained his momentum at the start of the second hitting a cross court winner to bring up a break point and then converting it with a backhand pass down the line.
Tsitsipas’s response was to ask the crowd for more support and it worked as Medvedev made four errors when he attempted to serve out for the win allowing the 21-year-old Greek back in the match at 5-5.
Unfortunately Tsitsipas was unable to withstand the pressure that Medvedev then applied and received a warning when he launched a ball into the crowd after he was broken for a second time, realising his chance of reaching the final was slipping away.
Medvedev was by now refocused and strolled through the final game, punctuating his 7-6(5) 7-5 win with a driving swing volley for what is his 6th final, and 58th win, of the season.
“Yes, my sixth straight final,” he commented after the one-hour 36-minute match. “Think it’s a great achievement. I’m proud of myself.
“Making six in a row, including three Masters 1000s and one Grand Slam, is something I could never dream of, to be honest. But I want to keep the momentum going and hope I can make it to seven or eight.”
If he is to win his fourth title of 2019, and his second Masters, he will have to overturn a losing record against Alexander Zverev, for the German continued his return to top form over the less experienced Matteo Berrettini.
Zverev’s win over Federer to reach the semis had already proved that the German’s difficult start to the year—his first-round loss at Wimbledon was his sixth of the season—was certainly a thing of the past. He had regained his self-belief and was beginning to look more like the man who beat both Federer and Djokovic to win the ATP Finals last November.
“I finally started to play the way I should play. I was playing really defensive earlier in the year, with not a lot of confidence…but finally started to play better tennis. Hope I can continue to play this way.”
And he did, against the newest member of the rising generation in what was Berrettini’s first Master 1000 semi.
Zverev served strongly breaking early for 3-1 and pressing the less experienced Italian into errors, pocketing the set after 30-minutes having dropped just two points on serve.
Berrettini started the second more confidently as well as being more assured on serve but at 4-4 it all fell apart. His first serve evaporated and errors started to creep back into his game but despite being 0-40, he held on for deuce only to give up his serve on the fourth breakpoint on a volleying error.
After an hour’s play, Zverev served out 6-3 6-4 for his place in the championship match.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s final, Zverev, who holds a 4-0 lead over Medvedev but hasn’t played him this year, noted: “We’ve played some fantastic matches, all going my way until now,” he said. “I hope tomorrow that will not change. But he’s been playing some fantastic tennis, sixth final in a row, US Open finalist, won Cincinnati. He’s probably the best player in the world right now.”