Daniil Medvedev had been the player to beat last summer alongside Rafael Nadal, winning 12 out of 14 matches and reaching finals in Washington, Montreal and Cincinnati. Nick Kyrgios and Nadal took down the Russian in the first two title matches, battling for another final in Cincinnati after dethroning Novak Djokovic 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and 42 minutes, advancing to the second consecutive Masters 1000 final.
The defending champion controlled the pace in the opening set before the Russian took charge, going for all-or-nothing shots that gave him the advantage on the court, firing 37 winners and 21 unforced errors to leave Novak behind and set the title clash against David Goffin.
It was a different dimension of Daniil's tennis in the second part of the encounter. He changed the course of the scoreboard and went for points instead of hitting a few meters behind the baseline, something that brought him nothing in the opener.
Medvedev had to play against only two break chances, suffering that break in set number one and looking more energetic and reliable in his games after fending off a crucial break point at 2-2 in set number two. Novak lost the ground from there, unable to draw mistakes from the inspired rival or extend the rallies to the safe ground above the ninth shot where he had a clear advantage.
Both players won 75 points and Daniil forged the advantage after converting all three break chances, playing mighty impressive tennis in the last 50 minutes or so to take one big title out of Novak's hands. Medvedev had more service winners, creating the gap in the shortest range up to four strokes and winning the same number of points as Novak in the mid-range exchanges from five to eight shots.
The Serb controlled the pace in the opening set with well-measured strokes, sailing through his games and delivering a break in game six after an incredible defense that sent him 4-2 up.
Last summer, Daniil Medvedev defeated Novak Djokovic in Cincinnati semis.
Djokovic wrapped up the set with a hold at 15 in game nine when the Russian sprayed a forehand error, hoping for more of the same in set number two. The defending champion was the better player on the court in the first six games of set number two, dropping one point in the first three service games and creating a break chance at 2-2 that could have pushed him closer to the finish line.
Staying calm, Daniil saved it with a service winner and blasted a backhand return winner at 4-3 to go in front, landing a forehand down the line winner in game nine to wrap up the set and bring the decider. There, he broke Novak at 15 in games three after a loose backhand from the Serb, holding at 30 with a service winner to confirm the advantage.
Returning at 5-3, Daniil landed a return winner to grab the victory and stay on the course for the first Masters 1000 crown.