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Medvedev Clinches Semifinal Spot in Turin, Sinner Notches win in Tournament Debut

Defending champion Daniil Medvedev of Russia celebrates after winning his group stage match against Alexander Zverev of Germany at the Nitto ATP Finals tennis tournament in Turin, Italy, 16 November 2021. EPA-EFE/Alessandro Di Marco.

By Ricky Dimon

Defending champion Daniil Medvedev is the first player to qualify for the semis at the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals. Medvedev improved to 2-0 in Group B after outlasting Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-6(6) in two hours and 35 minutes.

The second-ranked Russian did not get broken a single time, but it still wasn’t easy. Zverev forced a tiebreaker in the second set thanks in part to saving three break points along the way, and in the ‘breaker he benefited from a controversial foot-fault call against Medvedev that resulted in a double-fault. The third set also required a tiebreaker, before which Zverev faced no break points and Medvedev crucially fought off one at 5-5.

Early leads of 3-1 and 4-2 for the third-ranked German quickly evaporated and it was Medvedev who eventually earned two match points at 6-4 and 6-5. Zverev survived both of them, but the No. 2 seed took the next two points to clinch victory.

“(It’s) definitely one of the matches to remember when you win 8-6 in the tiebreaker in the third,” Medvedev commented. “It was 4-2 for him so I was like, ‘okay, he serves a few aces (and) it’s done. I made it 6-4 and I was like, ‘okay, that’s my moment now.’ It’s back to 6-6, you get really tight because I wanted to make a brave move [at] 6-5 (with a) second serve-and-volley–didn’t work out at all. He made an amazing shot. You are like maybe I should have stayed at the baseline. If I [lost] the match because of this, it [would have been] tough.

“Just an amazing feeling. Not actually much to say about the match; just amazing.”

It was an amazing and also somewhat unexpected day in front of the home crowd for Jannik Sinner. Matteo Berrettini’s status for Tuesday was unclear following his retirement against Zverev because of an abdominal injury on Tuesday. Berrettini ended up withdrawing around 5:00 pm, giving his younger countryman an opportunity to play in the Nitto ATP Finals as the first alternate.

Alternate Jannik Sinner stepped in for injured compatriot Matteo Berrettini and beat Hubert Hurkacz.

To say that Sinner capitalized on the opportunity would be a gross understatement. The 20-year-old struck five aces without double-faulting and saved all five of the break points he faced to crush Hubert Hurkacz 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 25 minutes,

“It’s not the way you want to play, when Matteo is pulling out,” Sinner admitted. “Matteo has been unlucky many, many times in his career and I wish him all the best. I am going to play for him at this tournament because he deserves more than me to be here. I will give my best.

“For sure it is a highlight playing here…. It is an incredible feeling playing here in Italy with thousands of people cheering for you. I was ready to go on court; I felt good in the warm up. I played well; it was an incredible match today.”

Sinner will qualify for the semifinals with a win over Medvedev on Thursday combined with a Zverev loss to Hurakcz. Zverev only needs to win his match. Hurakcz is actually still alive despite being 0-2, as the ninth-ranked Pole will advance with a win over Zverev and a Sinner loss to Medvedev.

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