01:05 AM GMT November 21, 2020
After bowing out of last year’s Nitto ATP Finals with a disappointing 0-3 record in his tournament debut, Daniil Medvedev returned to London hoping to redeem himself and claim a victory at The O2.
He’s done that and much more: The only player to advance to the knock-out stages undefeated, Medvedev has yet to drop a set and looked unstoppable as he breezed past 2018 champion Alexander Zverev, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Roland Garros semi-finalist Diego Schwartzman.
Despite the level he’s shown, the Rolex Paris Masters champion was deadpan realistic about his chances as he prepared to contest his first Nitto ATP Finals semi-final.
“I mean, when it's four people left, first of all, even if you give yourself [a] really small chance, it's 25%. It's one out of four,” Medvedev quipped in his post-match press conference after doling out a 6-3, 6-3 defeat to Schwartzman.
Medvedev advanced to face World No. 2 Rafael Nadal, a player who has defeated him in all three of their previous matchups, including back to back finals last year at the Western & Southern Open and the US Open. But the one freshest in Medvedev’s mind was last year’s Nitto ATP Finals heartbreaker, where the Russian player let slip a 5/1 lead in the third set tie-break as Nadal came back to win.
But rather than rue his bad luck, Medvedev seemed downright chipper about the prospect of a rematch against the 20-time Grand Slam winner.
“I like playing all of the [Big] Three,” he said in an on-court interview. “When I was so young, just starting to hold the racquet and just started to be interested in tennis - because actually I was not watching it when I was four or five - I started to see Grand Slams.”
“Basically when I started playing it, Roger was already there, I think, winning almost everything. Then Rafa came to make his mark, and then Novak came to try to disturb them all the time,” he later joked in press.
“So [it’s] always great to play against them. I’m really looking forward to the match, feeling confident. I think Rafa is also.”
It’s an easy confidence from a player who burst onto the scene just a year ago, and took to the game’s biggest stages like a veteran during his electrifying run to the 2019 US Open final. He avoided the dreaded sophomore slump in style, and now the three-time ATP Masters 1000 titlist looks right at home at the top of the game - and right alongside his childhood idols.
“A new match is a new match. It's [been] one year already,” he said of his Grand Slam defeat to Nadal. “Even though we all know who Rafa [is], everybody changes. So I'm sure he changed [a] few small things in his game. I changed mine.
“So a new match is never the same. Even [if] you can play him in round robin, you can win, and then you can lose in the final, something like this…
“I'm enjoying this moment, and hopefully I can continue it till Sunday. Let's call it Monday.”