Preview: Medvedev, Zverev To Toast Turin With Epic Final
While the major championships have largely remained the domain of the Big 3 — Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal — for the past 15 years, in recent years the Nitto ATP Finals has been the breakout stage for a new generation looking to dominate tennis in the decade ahead.
Alexander Zverev (2018), Stefanos Tsitsipas (2019) and Daniil Medvedev (2020) have shut out the Big 3 at the season finale in recent years and will continue that trend in a new era of the event being played out in Turin, Italy. At the end of a thrilling 2021 season, Medvedev and Zverev will square off at the Pala Alpitour Sunday (5pm CET/11am ET) in a blockbuster title match.
Their 12th ATP Head2Head meeting comes only five days after the Russian’s 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-6(6) victory over Zverev in the Red Group at the season finale, when Medvedev explained how his “hands were shaking”. Afterwards Zverev said: “I still have a chance to win the tournament and this is what I’m thinking to myself.”
Tennis fans will be hoping for the same quality on Sunday when Medvedev seeks his fifth title of the season and Zverev aims for a tour-best sixth trophy of the year.
Medvedev is 9-0 at the Nitto ATP Finals since his 0-3 debut in 2019. He would be the first repeat champion since Djokovic swept four straight titles in London from 2012-15. As part of that run, Djokovic won 15 consecutive matches.
On Sunday, Zverev will attempt to repeat his 2018 feat of overturning a defeat in the round-robin stage to the player he faced in the final. At The O2 in London, the German avenged his round-robin loss to Djokovic with a 6-4, 6-3 victory in the championship match for the biggest title of his career.
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While Medvedev may have the psychological edge having won their past five matches, Zverev arrived in Turin insisting, “I didn’t come here just as a participant, but I want to win matches and do well here.” With Medvedev beating Zverev by such small margins on Tuesday, arguably the confidence the German gained in defeating World No. 1 Djokovic 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3 in Saturday’s semi-finals may be a key factor in breaking Medvedev's streak.
Medvedev, speaking after his 6-4, 6-2 win over Casper Ruud in the semi-finals, admitted, “Sascha [has a] big serve, big shots. Quite the same forehand, backhand. [He is an] all-around player. Runs well, he hits well if he has an easy ball to play. [He is a] complete player, knows how to do everything. [A] great serve, great returner.”
Medvedev and Zverev have both recorded an ATP Tour-best 58 match wins ahead of their fourth clash at the Nitto ATP Finals. Medvedev experienced a high in winning his first major at the US Open (d. Djokovic) in September, while Zverev also beat Djokovic en route to the Tokyo Olympics gold medal (d. Khachanov) in August.
Zverev has compiled a 31-4 match record since the Olympics and is looking forward to Sunday's clash. The German admitted, “I lost 8/6 in the third set in the group stages [on Tuesday], so I’m just looking forward to the final as I think it will be a great one. Outside of the Slams and the Olympics, this is the biggest tournament in the world.
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"It features the best eight players and is difficult to win. I'm looking forward to having another chance [against Medvedev]. He is one of the best players in the world right now, so it's going to be a difficult match no matter what."
World No. 3 Zverev won their first season finale match 6-4, 7-6(4) in November 2019. It marks his last victory over No. 2-ranked Medvedev, who went on to beat the German star 6-3, 6-4 in the 2020 season finale.
- Neither finalist is over 25 for the first time since 2005 Shanghai (David Nalbandian, 23, d. Roger Federer, 24). Former champions are meeting in the final for the first time since 2015 London (Novak Djokovic d. Federer).
- Zverev defeated seven-time year-end No. 1 and five-time champion Djokovic in the semi-finals. If he defeats No. 2 Medvedev, Zverev will become the fourth player in tournament history to earn semi-final and final wins over the Top 2 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings (Ivan Lendl in 1982, Stefan Edberg in 1989, Andre Agassi in 1990).
- In 2020, Medvedev became the first player in tournament history to go undefeated one year after going winless in his debut.