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Ricky’s Tennis preview and pick for the Nitto ATP Finals title match: Medvedev vs. Zverev

Defending-champion Daniil Medvedev rides a nine-match tournament win streak into the Nitto ATP Finals title match vs. Alexander Zverev. EPA-EFE/ALESSANDRO DI MARCO

By Ricky Dimon

Only nine men in history have won the year-end championship multiple times. There have also been five different winners in the last five seasons.

Either Daniil Medvedev or Alexander Zverev will change all-time and recent history when they battle for the Nitto ATP Finals title on Sunday afternoon. Both players are hoping to lift the trophy for the second time in their careers; Medvedev is the defending champion, while Zverev triumphed in 2018.

Zverev denied Novak Djokovic a sixth title in the 2018 final, and he did the same in Saturday’s semifinal nightcap. The third-ranked German delivered an incredible performance to take down Turin’s top seed 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3. Zverev had booked his spot in the last four with round-robin victories over Matteo Berrettini (via retirement) and Hubert Hurkacz.

Sunday is a rematch of a Group B round-robin thriller, won by Medvedev 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-6(6) on Tuesday. That gave the Russian a 6-5 lead in the head-to-head series, but such a record hardly tells the full story. Medvedev has won five in a row at Zverev’s expense after once trailing the German 5-1. Their other meeting this fall was far more lopsided than the one from earlier this week, as Medvedev dominated 6-2, 6-2 in the semis of the recent Paris Masters.

Alexander Zverev plays for his second ATP Finals title. EPA-EFE/Alessandro Di Marco

“I lost 8-6 in the [third-set tiebreaker] in the group stage, so I am just looking forward to the match,” Zverev reflected. “I think it will be a great one. There is only the best here, so it takes a lot to win this tournament. I am looking forward to having another chance. He is one of the best players in the world right now, so It is going to be a difficult match.”

That’s an understatement.

In addition to being the U.S. Open champion, Medvedev is now on a nine-match winning streak at the Nitto ATP Finals. The world No. 2 battled to three-set wins in round-robin competition at the expense of Zverev, Hubert Hurkacz, and Jannik Sinner before crushing Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-2 in the semis.

“I think all the matches were a great level,” Medvedev assessed. “Different opponents and different styles. I managed to win all the matches. It was not an easy match [against Ruud]. When you are in the final, you can’t complain. I am just looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully I can have my best match.”

As if a nine-match winning streak at one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world isn’t enough evidence that Medvedev thrives on the big stage, he already saved one of his best matches for the U.S. Open final against Djokovic. All signs point to the 25-year-old saving another one for Sunday.

Zverev is playing well enough to keep it close–like on Tuesday and unlike in Paris–but Medvedev has a slight edge in just about every department.

Pick: Medvedev in 3

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.