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ATP Finals: Medvedev routs Djokovic in straight sets

Last updated on: November 19, 2020 09:05 IST
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 Daniil Medvedev

IMAGE: Daniil Medvedev celebrates a point during his match against Novak Djokovic during Day 4 of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals at The O2 Arena in London, on Wednesday. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

World number one Novak Djokovic had enough on his plate already on Wednesday without marauding Russian Daniil Medvedev pummelling him to a shock 6-3, 6-3 defeat at the ATP Finals.

 

Shortly after news broke that Djokovic had been nominated for a return to the ATP player council he had quit in August, he took to court at the O2 Arena hoping to seal his passage into the semi-finals of the prestigious year-ender.

Instead his progress out of the Tokyo Group looks tricky, even if not quite as complicated as the politics rumbling on in men's tennis since he announced in August he was forming a breakaway Professional Tennis Players' Association (PTPA).

Medvedev's sensational performance means he is guaranteed top spot in the group and Djokovic, bidding to match Roger Federer by winning the title for a record-equalling sixth time, must beat 2018 champion Alexander Zverev in his last round-robin match on Friday.

Novak Djokovic

IMAGE: Novak Djokovic, bidding to match Roger Federer by winning the title for a record-equalling sixth time, must beat 2018 champion Alexander Zverev in his last round-robin match on Friday. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

There was little sign of what was to come in a mesmerising opening to the match as Djokovic edged into a 3-2 lead.

But the 24-year-old Medvedev, his flat groundstrokes scorching through the court, found a gear that even indoor master Djokovic could not locate.

Pummelling his high-velocity groundstrokes deep into the corners, Medvedev had Djokovic burning rubber and went on a near-perfect seven-game winning streak to leave his bemused opponent puffing out his cheeks.

By the time 17-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic managed to stop the rot he was a set and 3-1 in arrears.

Medvedev was relentless and continued to boss the baseline rallies as he extended his lead to 5-2.

Djokovic held serve to at least ask the question of Medvedev's nerve but the Russian was ice cool as he closed out victory to make it two wins from two in the group, while handing Djokovic only his fourth defeat of 2020.

Medvedev, who made only 12 unforced errors, lost all three of his group matches on his ATP Finals debut in London last year, but now looks like a genuine title contender.

"I just had a pretty bad seven games in a row," Djokovic, who himself lost all three matches on his debut at the ATP's jewel in the crown in 2007 before taking the title in 2008, said.

"In no time it was 6-3, 3-0. He was just better, no question about it. I struggled to find the right rhythm for 15 minutes or so. I could have and should have done better, but credit to him for playing on a high level."

Daniil Medvedev

IMAGE: Daniil Medvedev, who made only 12 unforced errors, lost all three of his group matches on his ATP Finals debut in London last year, but now looks like a genuine title contender.. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Medvedev did what Djokovic has done to countless opponents. Having absorbed the Serb's best early on, he broke serve in an extended game at 3-3 and then ran the legs off his increasingly dispirited and ragged opponent.

"I'm sure he didn't play his best but it happens to everybody," the world number four, who warmed up for London by winning the Paris Masters, said.

"I always say the Big Three are champions because it happens to them less than everyone else. I'm feeling confident. I knew I had to take my chances and it was a great match for me."

While he will go into his final group match against Diego Schwartzman with no stress, Djokovic faces a straight shoot-out with Zverev to avoid an early exit.

Zverev rebounds to beat Schwartzman

Alexander Zverev

IMAGE:  Germany's Alexander Zverev celebrates winning his group stage match against Argentina's Diego Schwartzman. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Germany's Alexander Zverev stayed in contention at the ATP Finals as he beat Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in his second round-robin match at the O2 Arena on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old world number seven knew his hopes of reaching the semi-finals would be as good as over if he suffered a second loss, having been beaten by Daniil Medvedev on Monday.

While there were still a few lapses, Zverev ultimately had too much firepower for the debutant from Argentina.

Just as he had done against favourite Novak Djokovic on Monday, Schwartzman got an early break of serve only to fall away in disappointing fashion as 2018 champion Zverev broke back twice to take the opening set.

Playing in front of 18,000 empty seats, both players lacked sparkle in a subdued contest but Zverev looked on course for a comfortable win as he led 3-1 in the second set.

The German appeared to lose focus though and Schwartzman grabbed his chance to win five of the next six games and extend the match into a decider.

Zverev dominated the decider though and will go into a final group match against Djokovic on Friday with a semi-final place still possible. Djokovic faces Medvedev later with the winner guaranteed a place in the semi-finals.

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