Despite a solid effort, Daniil Medvedev lost all three encounters on his ATP Finals debut in 2019. The Russian had a massive chance to score at least one triumph in London, forging a 5-1 advantage in the decider against world no.
1 Rafael Nadal and wasting a match point in game seven. After a roller coaster, Nadal overcame a deficit and prevailed 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 in two hours and 46 minutes, scoring another thrilling victory over Daniil following the US Open final two months earlier.
Speaking about the match ahead of his second ATP Finals campaign last year, Daniil said he felt disappointed for a week or two after a tough loss, trying to take positive notes from it and improve his game ahead of the following notable encounters.
Nadal made a terrible start at the ATP Finals in 2019, losing to Alexander Zverev in straight sets. With the year-end no. 1 award still not officially in his hands, Rafa had to dig deep against Medvedev in the re-run of their magnificent US Open final, beating the Russian after overcoming that colossal deficit.
It was their third meeting and the third triumph for Rafa, who claimed three points more than his rival and scored the crucial break at 4-5 in the deciding set before winning the tie break. World no. 1 fended off four out of six break chances and earned four breaks from nine opportunities to prevail after saving a match point for the first time since Beijing 2017.
Rafa had 26 winners and 27 unforced errors, improving his level significantly in comparison to that first clash against the German. The 19-time Major champion overpowered Daniil in the mid-range exchanges, compensating 41 winners and 40 mistakes from the Russian and delivering essential 200 points in the year-end no.
1 battle with Novak Djokovic.
Daniil Medvedev wasted a 5-1 lead and a match point against Rafael Nadal in London.
The Spaniard saved a break chance in the opener's game seven to reach a tie break that Daniil claimed 7-3 with a service winner after 53 minutes.
Raising his level, Nadal lost six points on serve in set number two and kept the pressure on Medvedev, clinching a break in the first game after a loose forehand from the Russian. Delivering one good hold after another, Rafa grabbed another break in game nine to close the set in style and gather momentum ahead of the decider, where he was the favorite.
Instead, Daniil earned breaks in games one and three to forge a 4-0 advantage and created two more chances on the return in the fifth game that could have pushed him further ahead. Rafa repelled those and found the energy to climb back, saving a match point with a perfect drop shot at 1-5 and pulling the second break back at 4-5 to extend the clash and his chances.
There were no mini-breaks in the first nine points of the tie break before Rafa scored one in the tenth point when Daniil's forehand landed long. The Spaniard sealed the deal at 6-4 following his rival's backhand mistake, celebrating a significant victory and staying in the semi-final chase.
"I will be honest, for around a week or two, I was disappointed about that match. If I had won that one, I would have had chances to qualify for semis. Beating Rafa would have been a significant boost of confidence, but these things happen.
I should learn from it, and, from the other side, I should leave it behind because that's a match I should have won. Nothing occurred to be depressed about; I knew I had to continue working and think about the future. I try not to think about the past too much but only about present and future," Daniil Medvedev said.