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Medvedev Defeats Hurkacz in First Match of 2021 Nitto ATP Finals, Berrettini Retires Against Zverev

Daniil Medvedev of Russia celebrates after winning the match against Hubert Hurkacz of Poland at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, Italy, 14 November 2021. EPA-EFE/ALESSANDRO DI MARCO.

By Ricky Dimon

Daniil Medvedev started slow in his first match at the Nitto ATP Finals, but he acclimated to the conditions in time to come back and beat Hubert Hurkacz 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday afternoon.

With the court playing like an ice rink, Medvedev mashed 16 aces while double-faulting only once and he did not face a single break point. The defending champion also fired 31 winners compared to just eight unforced errors. Medvedev would be the first to tell you that it isn’t difficult to end points quickly in Milan.

“I don’t think it’s the surface itself, because (the) surface probably is exactly the same as in London,” he explained. “I think it’s a combination of air, which is really dry here, and I think the ball goes very fast through the air; the balls are quite fast balls.

“I was barely under pressure on my serve against a great returner. And same for me; I had just two games where I had break points.”

Medvedev converted on both occasions–once in each set. Hurkacz never had a chance to regain either of the breaks.

“Daniil is an amazing player and he played great tennis for the whole match,” the seventh-seeded Pole praised. “He doesn’t have dips in his game, so that makes him such a tough opponent.”

Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini seemed to be in line for a similarly tough match after Zverev took the opening set 7-6(7) without either player managing to break serve. However, less than two games into the second Berrettini was forced to retire with an apparent abdominal injury. The seventh-ranked Italian called it quits in tears while serving at 0-1, ad-out.

Matteo Berrettini of Italy gets medical assistance during the match against Alexander Zverev of Germany at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, Italy, 14 November 2021. EPA-EFE/ALESSANDRO DI MARCO

“I don’t really know what to say, because this is the worst feeling a player can have,” Zverev said during his on-court interview. “You play all year long to qualify for this beautiful tournament. For Matteo playing at home, this is the worst feeling I think he will ever have in his career.”

The only good news for a disappointed crowd is that the first alternate is none other than Jannik Sinner. Thus it will be another Italian who replaces Berrettini if the Wimbledon runner-up cannot play his last two round-robin matches.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.