ATP Finals: Big 3 down a match while the younger generation surge forward

by   |  VIEW 17308

ATP Finals: Big 3 down a match while the younger generation surge forward

Rafael Nadal put on the fight of his life to come back from a set down and 5-1 in the third (and match point!) against Daniil Medvedev, who wilted under the pressure, handing the world No. 1 the victory he needed to stay alive in the round robin stage of the ATP Finals.

No one bounces back like Nadal when he’s down, proving his comeback skills are unparalleled. Like Federer and Djokovic, the Big Three are now 1-1 in each of their round robin stages, with decisive matches left to get to the semifinals.

The battle of the next gens, 22-year-old Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas ended in the Greek’s favor, who hasn’t dropped a set throughout the tournament, the match against his friend falling along this line, 6-3, 6-2.

He joins his 26-year-old peer, Dominc Thiem—who is also 2-0 in his matches—with a guaranteed spot in the semis.

“I'm just playing my game. I have a clear picture, a clear mindset on court,” explained 21-year-old Tsitsipas, according to Skysports.

“I've been mixing my game a lot, trying to be unpredictable. I think my serve has improved tremendously over the last couple of months”.

Where the Big 3 stand in the mix With his 34th Masters 1000 title in Paris heading into the ATP Finals and commanding first round thumping of Matteo Berrettini in the WTF round one stage, Novak Djokovic seemed to be the player to beat.

But after losing a tightly contested fight to Dominic Thiem in the second round robin match, 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(5), he’s in the same boat as his other rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Federer lost his first round robin against the same man who just defeated Djokovic, with Thiem becoming only the second man to beat both tennis titans at the ATP Finals, and the first to defeat them in the round robin stage.

It’s a remarkable accomplishment for the 26-year-old player who has long lived in the shadow of the Big 3, losing to Nadal in two French Open finals. The bout was one of the most captivating matches of the tournament so far.

”This was really one of these special matches, what I’ve practiced all my life for, all my childhood for,” Thiem said afterwards, according to the ATP. “Really epic one in an amazing atmosphere, beating a legend of our game.

And also, I’ve qualified for the semi-finals, which is the best”.

Rafa lost in his first round robin on Monday to Alexander Zverev, 6-2, 6-4, with the German displaying a fearless maturity to clock in his first win over the world No.

1. The next generation players who are hungry to take over the mantle from Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic are all fired up in London. After the Tstitsipas loss, Zverev is still vying for another match win to make the semifinals.

“This means so much, playing here again after winning my biggest title so far in my career here last year.

This means everything to me,” Zverev said after his win over Rafa, according to the ATP. Federer and Djokovic face each other while Nadal is up against on-fire Tsitsipas Federer fought for his life to resurrect his chances into the next round, due to face Djokovic, and seeking revenge for the crushing defeat at Wimbledon.

Djokovic, who had seemed unstoppable at the start of the tournament, will need to fend off the Swiss to make the semifinals. "In his next match against Novak Djokovic he is going to have to step up his level if he is going to qualify for the semi-finals,” said former British No.

1 Greg Rusedski, commentating for Amazon Prime, after his easy win over the Italian. "He is going to have to find a way to raise his game, but all the pressure will be on Novak. "When Roger is loose and with no expectation, he plays his best tennis, so I expect a really higher level from Roger Federer in that match-up."

It’s all on the line With Nadal’s loss in his first match at the 02, Djokovic had narrowed the world No. 1 deficit but his push against Medvedev means the race to retain that spot until year-end if very much still on.

Djokovic is looking to equal Federer’s six ATP Finals titles record and equal Pete Sampras’s six End-of-Year world No. 1 record. With Djokovic’s win in Paris, he has increased his tally of ‘big titles’ to 55 (16 grand slams, 34 Masters 1000’s, 5 WTF), with his great rivals Federer and Nadal tied just behind him.

“I believe the competition between us is something really important for the sport. We’re young and just getting started, so it’s obviously very fiery and we want to beat each other. But we appreciate each game, everyone plays differently and it’s quite interesting to see so many varieties,” said Zverev at the outset of the tournament, according to Livetennis.

“We are the future, we will be the ones that will fill the stadiums and get people to watch tennis. We’re going to create the future of the sport, along with other younger players”.

Rafa will face a commanding Tsitsipas to get through to the next round on Friday.

“Tsitsipas is a great player with a lot of energy and he's having an amazing season,” said Nadal. “It will be a tough one, but I know I need to win that one”. The ATP Finals this year has been anything but predictable and continues to thrill and surprise.