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Ricky’s preview and pick for the Vienna final: Medvedev vs. Shapovalov

It is only a matter of time before Daniil Medvedev locks up his spot at the Nitto ATP Finals. He still has the Paris Masters in his back pocket next week, but Medvedev will go ahead and clinch qualification on Sunday if he lifts the trophy at the Erste Bank Open.

Although Medvedev’s year has been unspectacular since finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open, less winning–compared to 2019, for example–has left him more rested for the stretch run. The world No. 4 certainly looks like he has a lot left in the tank this week, having taken out Nikoloz Basilashvili, Dominic Thiem, Jannik Sinner, and Grigor Dimitrov all in easy straight sets. Not a single set has been more competitive than 6-4.

Up next for Medvedev is Denis Shapovalov, who is a decent 2-3 in the head-to-head series but has lost three in a row to Medvedev. They have faced each other once this season, with the Russian prevailing 7-5, 7-5 at the Cincinnati Masters.

Shapovalov’s 2022 campaign has been unspectacular at best. The 19th-ranked Canadian’s record was just 28-22 heading into this week and he is still searching for his first title. Shapovalov came close earlier this month in Seoul (lost to Yoshihito Nishioka in the final) and he is again one win away following Vienna victories over Jurij Rodionov, Taylor Fritz, Dan Evans, and Borna Coric.

Shapovalov’s summer slump may be over, but nothing suggests that he is ready to take down Medvedev. After all, nobody has come close this week. The top seed has not been broken a single time in four matches and has faced only one break point.

“The serve is probably the most important shot in tennis,” Medvedev said following his 6-4, 6-2 semifinal win over Dimitrov. “I was lacking it a little bit this season; I was doing too many double-faults. Sometimes in important moments my serve could have been a little bit better. I was working a lot with my coach to try and find this rhythm (again), and so far I’m serving good here. I’m really happy about it and that’s also why I’m playing so good.”

Count on him being too good for Shapovalov on Sunday–thus booking his ticket to Turin.

Pick: Medvedev 2

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