Competing in his first ATP Finals semi-final since 2015 a year ago, Rafael Nadal had a massive chance to advance into the third final at the event he has never conquered. Rafa led 6-3, 5-4 against an in-form Daniil Medvedev, but instead of bringing the encounter home in under an hour and a half, the Spaniard allowed the opponent to bounce back and score a 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 triumph!
Medvedev prevailed in two hours and 35 minutes of grueling battle, scoring a vital break at 4-5 in set number two when Rafa served for the victory and never looking back. Daniil had 42 winners and 29 unforced errors, leaving Rafa on a 22-30 ratio and securing a place in the final against Dominic Thiem.
The Russian forged the advantage in the most advanced rallies and saved his best tennis for the last four games to seal the deal and leave Nadal empty-handed.
Daniil Medvedev shared thoughts about the last year's Rafael Nadal clash.
Rafa claimed the opener with a break in game eight and found himself 4-1 down in the second, with another break chance for Daniil in game six.
The Spaniard saved it and rattled off four straight games to open a 5-4 gap and serve for a commanding victory. Instead of bringing the encounter home, Nadal suffered a costly break at love to keep Medvedev in contention and lose ground.
The Russian secured a tie break 7-4 after forcing Nadal's error, introducing the decider after an hour and 47 minutes. A smash winner clinched a break for Daniil at 3-3, and he cemented the advantage with a solid forehand attack.
Returning at 5-3, Medvedev grabbed another break to move over the top and advance into the title clash against Dominic Thiem. Daniil would beat Dominic in a thriller to secure the trophy, failing to defend it a couple of weeks ago after losing the title clash to Alexander Zverev.
"The most significant memories from the last year's ATP Finals were the semi-final and final. Of course, I remember every match, as it was tough. Rafael Nadal served for the victory in the semi-final. I felt like I was playing well and was in good shape after winning Paris.
I was standing there, and I was like, 'Am I really going to lose like this 6-3, 6-4 and just go back home?' It was the year's last tournament, and I did not want to finish that way. I was happy to break through because you will not make it back all the time, especially against somebody like Rafa.
It was the same in the final against Dominic Thiem. He was completely dominating me for a big part of the match. I think either at 3-3 or 4-4, he had some break points, and I remember one of them; it was kind of an easy forehand.
I was at the net, and he missed it. But that's what tennis is about. I managed to win both matches; they lasted for two and a half hours or two hours and 45 minutes. These two matches stay in my memory because they make the title even sweeter," Daniil Medvedev said.