Competing in his first ATP Finals semi-final since 2015, Rafael Nadal had a massive chance to advance into the third final. Rafa led 6-3, 5-4 against Daniil Medvedev, but instead of bringing the encounter home in under an hour and a half, the Spaniard allowed the opponent to turn the scoreboard and score a 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 triumph, staying empty-handed in his tenth ATP Finals campaign.
In the round-robin stage, Rafa lost another tight clash against Dominic Thiem, falling 7-6, 7-6 despite having chances in both sets. Nadal's coach Carlos Moya says it was a shame that Nadal couldn't fight for London's title, losing the crucial points against Thiem and Medvedev, which doesn't often happen in his encounters.
The Austrian grabbed his sixth victory over the Spaniard following a thrilling 7-6, 7-6 triumph in two hours and 25 minutes to sail into the semis. Like in Melbourne in January, Thiem won the decisive points against Rafa, fending off two set points in the opener and erasing a break deficit in the second to prevail in straight sets and become the seventh player with six triumphs over the 20-time Major champion.
There were only two breaks of serves in games seven and eight of set number two, with two rivals staying neck and neck and producing excellent tennis that was well-worth the title clash.
Rafael Nadal lost tight encounters against Thiem and Medvedev in London.
Nadal toppled Tsitsipas in the last round-robin match to advance into the final four, having everything under control against Medvedev before falling in three sets.
The Russian prevailed in two hours and 35 minutes, 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 final place.
The young player secured the advantage in the most advanced rallies, saving his best tennis for the last four games to seal the deal and set the Dominic Thiem clash. "The ATP Finals was a pity, as I think Rafa had chances of reaching the final and battling for the title.
Those tense moments usually work in his favor, but that wasn't the case against Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem. Things are developing quickly on such a fast court like in London, and two or three key moments will decide the winner among the top-ranked rivals.
You have to stay focused and grab those crucial points, as they are likely to determine who takes the victory home. Usually, Rafa solves this type of situation in his favor, but we have to praise Thiem and Medvedev, whom both played on a high level when it mattered the most. They won the crucial points against Rafa and came as deserved winners," Carlos Moya said.