By the draw's will, the Paris Masters finalists faced each other in the ATP Finals' first round-robin match. Like in the French capital, Daniil Medvedev bested Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 29 minutes for his first victory at this event.
Medvedev saved five out of six break points in the opener and delivered three breaks to seal the deal in straight sets, raising his level after a slow start to leave Zverev behind. The opening set saw 13 break chances and many errors on both sides, with Medvedev prevailing with two successful return games by his name.
Daniil sprayed ten forehand mistakes, but the other elements worked fine for him, winning seven points more and outplaying Alexander in the shortest range up to four strokes. The Russian hit a double fault in the opening game to suffer a break, pulling it back straight away after the German's three double faults in game two.
Daniil repelled no less than five break chances at 1-1, showing skills at the net and securing the game with a service winner. Medvedev wasted two break chances in the next one with loose forehands and held after deuce a few minutes later to open a 3-2 gap.
Losing ground on serve in those moments, Alexander had to dig deep behind the initial shot in game six, finding no free points or the way to impose his strokes. He saved three break chances before Daniil grabbed the fourth after back-to-back double faults from a frustrated German.
Serving at 4-2, the Russian landed a forehand down the line winner to extend the advantage, forcing the opponent to serve for staying in the set. Zverev held at 15 to reduce the deficit before Medvedev wrapped up the opener with a hold at love at 5-3.
Alexander Zverev wasn't happy with his performance against Daniil Medvedev.
Starting all over, a former ATP Finals champion held with a service winner in the second set's opening game, denied by the Russian who landed an ace to level the score at 1-1 in his second straight hold at love.
A smash winner brought the fifth game for Zverev, which wasn't the case at 3-3 when Medvedev grabbed a crucial break that pushed him in front following a loose forehand from the German. The Russian grabbed the eighth game with a service winner, serving for the victory at 5-4.
With no sign of nerves, Daniil held at love with a backhand crosscourt winner, moving over the top in style and celebrating his first ATP Finals triumph. "My serve wasn't quite there; it wasn't a good match for me.
It has to be one of my worst performances since the restart, but I also have to give Daniil full credits, who did what he had to do. That underarm serve paid off for him, I was far back, and he saw that. The conditions are much quicker than in Paris; it's not easy to control the balls on this surface.
Daniil was a bit nervous in the early stages before picking up his game. On the other hand, I didn't provide a level to beat a top-10 guy. There is no fury between us; we are good friends and have known each other since childhood.
I have no problems with Danill. I have to raise my level against Diego Schwartzman and Novak Djokovic. If I play like today, I'm not going to win any matches here this week. I can't afford to lose, and I have to beat both of them to have a chance of reaching the semis. I will try to do that, although it will not be easy," Alexander Zverev said.