After failing to score a win in London a year ago, Daniil Medvedev is through to the ATP Finals title match. The Russian overpowered world no. 2 Rafael Nadal 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 in two hours and 35 minutes, scoring a crucial break at 4-5 in set number two when Rafa served for the win and never looking back.
Daniil had more strength in his arms and legs, suffering three breaks but delivering four to cross the finish line first and set the clash against Dominic Thiem. Rafa served at only 42% in the opener, drawing the most from that deficit and fending off three break chances in one loose service game to stay alive.
The Spaniard had seven winners and eight unforced errors, winning all five points at the net and dominating the shortest rallies up to four strokes to take the set 6-3. Nadal held at 30 in the opening game after forcing a backhand error from Medvedev, who leveled the score at 1-1 with Rafa's forced mistake.
Rafa had to dig deep in the third game, fending off three break chances and bringing it home after a service winner to avoid an early setback. Daniil secured the fourth game with a service winner, hoping for more opportunities on the return but netting a forehand in game five to send Nadal 3-2 ahead.
The Russian locked the result for the third time in game six, doing his best to remain in touch with the Spaniard from the baseline but falling 4-3 down after netting a backhand. Daniil lost ground in the eighth game, sending a forehand long to suffer a break at love and allowing Rafa to seal the set a few minutes later on serve for 6-3.
Daniil Medvedev is through to his first ATP Finals title match.
Medvedev was the more aggressive player in set number two, hitting 21 winners and ten unforced errors and opening a 4-1 gap. Like many times before, Nadal fought back and clinched the next four games, serving for the victory and suffering a break before his rival stole the set in the tie break.
Daniil won 12 of the opening 13 points, securing a break in game two after a double fault from the Spaniard. Medvedev landed an ace to open a 4-1 gap, creating a break chance in the next one that could have sent him further in front.
Nadal saved it, closed the game to reduce the deficit and pulled the break with a forehand winner to move 3-4 down. Rafa held at 15 and scored another break in game nine, serving for the victory at 5-4. Instead of bringing the encounter home, the Spaniard suffered a break at love to keep Medvedev in contention.
The Russian securing a tie break 7-4 after forcing Nadal's error to bring the decider after an hour and 47 minutes. A smash winner clinched a break for Daniil at 3-3 in the final set, cementing the advantage with a solid forehand attack to force Nadal to serve for staying in the match.
Medvedev grabbed another break in game nine to seal the deal and advance into Sunday's title clash against Dominic Thiem, chasing the biggest title of his career.