Competing in his first ATP Finals semi-final since 2015, 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 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, staying empty-handed in his tenth ATP Finals campaign!
Medvedev prevailed in two hours and 35 minutes, scoring a vital break at 4-5 in set number two when Rafa served for the win 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 Russian forged the advantage in the most advanced rallies and saved his best tennis for the last four games to seal the deal and set Dominic Thiem clash. Nadal kicked off the battle with a hold at 30 after forcing a backhand error from Medvedev and had to dig deep in game three.
The Spaniard fended off three break chances and brought it home with a service winner to avoid an early setback and gain confidence. Daniil secured the fourth game with an unreturned serve and locked the result for the third time in game six, staying in touch with a great rival.
The younger player lost ground at 3-4, sent a forehand long to suffer a break at love and allow Rafa to seal the set on his serve for 6-3. Medvedev was the more aggressive player in set number two, hitting 21 winners and ten unforced errors.
The Russian won 12 of the second set's opening 13 points, securing a break in game two after the Spaniard's double fault. Daniil landed an ace to open a 4-1 advantage and created another break chance in the next one.
Daniil Medvedev spoke about victory over Rafael Nadal in London.
Nadal saved it 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, looking good to seal the deal at 5-4.
Instead of bringing the encounter home, the Spaniard 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.
"When Rafa served for the match, I already thought that I would be out of the tournaments in a couple of minutes. It was a pity, as I was in such good shape. I felt I played on the same level as Rafa, with that early break in the second set.
I knew it's my last chance and that I have to give it all. I knew Rafa would be a bit tight; I hit some good returns and one winner, and out of a sudden, we were back at 5-5. The pressure was on Rafa, and I took advantage of that and beat him. "