Russian faces Djokovic or Zverev in the championship match

Daniil Medvedev moved to within one match of retaining his Nitto ATP Finals title Saturday, cruising past Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-2 to earn his ninth consecutive victory at the season finale.

The Russian soared through the round-robin stage with a perfect 3-0 record and played with such confidence against Ruud as he overpowered the Norwegian with his flat and deep groundstrokes in a dominant performance to advance after 80 minutes in Turin.

“As soon as you are a set and a break up you feel like you are in control, but that is when the danger is,” Medvedev said in his on-court interview. “You need to stay focused and fight for every point. In the last game I had 0/30 on my serve, and until the last point, it is never over. So I am happy I was able to finish it.

“I think all the matches were a great level. Different opponents and different styles. I managed to win all the matches. It was not an easy match [today]. When you are in the final you can’t complain, so I am just looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully I can have my best match.”

Medvedev now leads Ruud 3-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, having also defeated the World No. 8 on grass in Mallorca in June en route to the title.

The 25-year-old, who downed Dominic Thiem to lift The Brad Drewett Trophy in London in 2020, will face either five-time Nitto ATP Finals champion Novak Djokovic or 2018 titlist Alexander Zverev in the championship match.

Earlier this season, the World No. 2 captured his fourth ATP Masters 1000 crown in Toronto, before he ended Djokovic’s Grand Slam hopes in the US Open final to win his maiden major title. Medvedev arrived in Turin following a run to the championship match in Paris, where he lost to Djokovic, who gained revenge for his defeat at Flushing Meadows.

Medvedev trails the Serbian 4-6 in their ATP Head2Head series, but leads Zverev 6-5, having won their past five meetings, including a three-set win at the Pala Alpitour this week.

“At this moment we are the Top 3 in the rankings,” Medvedev added. “Just three of us left here, so I am looking forward to a great match tomorrow no matter who I play. I had a few tough matches against Novak lately and a few tough matches against Sascha and one here this week, so it is going to be interesting.”

Medvedev made a quick start against Ruud as he soaked up the 22-year-old’s heavy-hitting, while imposing his explosive game on the Norwegian to break early. In the fast conditions, the Russian was strong on serve in the first set, winning 85 per cent (17/20) of points behind his first delivery as he sealed the opener after 42 minutes.

The World No. 2 continued to control proceedings in the second set as he coped with Ruud’s variety to great effect, dealing with the 22-year-old’s slice and drop shots to move 4-2 ahead. Medvedev then raced to the finish line, firing 17 winners and committing 14 unforced errors in the match to secure victory.

Ruud was making his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals and edged Andrey Rublev to qualify for the semi-finals as he went 2-1 in Green Group action. In a breakthrough season, he has earned 55 tour-level wins, holding a 25-10 record on hard courts. Before this year, Ruud was 16-27 in tour-level matches on hard courts.

The 22-year-old clinched five tour-level titles in 2021 and became the first Norwegian to crack the Top 10 in the FedEx ATP Rankings in September.

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