Tsitsipas, Medvedev Meet Again In Turin


After Rafael Nadal became the first man to be eliminated from semi-final contention at the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals, Wednesday’s action will see Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev playing to avoid the same fate.

An evening defeat for either man would deal a major dent in his hopes to progress out of the Red Group, while the winner of the afternoon matchup between Novak Djokovic and Andrey Rublev could have his place in the knockout rounds confirmed by day’s end.

In doubles action, top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski meet Croatians Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic in a battle of 1-0 teams, while Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios face Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek as both pairs seek their first win of the week.

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[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs. [4] Daniil Medvedev

The 11th meeting in the longstanding ATP Head2Head rivalry between Tsitsipas and Medvedev will play out at the Pala Alpitour as the pair meets at the Nitto ATP Finals for a second time. After Medvedev won the first five meetings, Tsitsipas has claimed three of the past five to improve to 3-7 in their history. The Greek scored his first win in the series at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals and went on to win the London title in his tournament debut.

Though both men lost their opening matches on Monday in Turin, both can take plenty of positives from their narrow defeats. Tsitsipas was broken just once in a 6-4, 7-6(4) loss to Djokovic, while Medvedev was edged 6-7(7), 6-3, 7-6(7) by Rublev.

Tsitsipas felt he was nearing top form late in the match against Djokovic, though the Serbian was still able to close out the tie-break with strong serving.

“I kind of found [my backhand] in the last rally we had before he served those two great serves,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “I found a rhythm, I got into the rally a little bit better, a few adjustments that I made. I just wish I could have done this earlier. I don’t know, certain things come at random times in matches, completely random. Could be the very last points of the match.”

Who wins in Turin?

Tsitsipas in two sets

Tsitsipas in three sets

Medvedev in two sets

Medvedev in three sets

Medvedev was generally happy with his performance against Rublev, though he sees plenty of room to grow.

“There are some matches where you feel like you’re untouchable, and you know that everything you do — let’s put it this way — turns into gold. Today was not one of them,” he said.

“I didn’t feel amazing during the match,” he later added. “I would enjoy it if I would feel better in terms of tennis. But, again, looking back, [we played] some great points. This can make you play better and turn things into gold in the next matches.”

While Medvedev and Tsitsipas described an adjustment period in their first match on the slick Turin hard court, both players also said they like the quick indoor conditions. If Tsitsipas plays with similar tactics to his three-set Cincinnati win against Medvedev — during which he attacked the net 36 times — the speedy court could help him take even more time away from his opponent.

Rublev vs. Djokovic

[6] Andrey Rublev vs. [7] Novak Djokovic (SER)

With lead of the Red Group at stake, Rublev and Djokovic square off for the second straight year in Turin. Djokovic scored a 6-3, 6-2 victory on his way to the 2021 semi-finals, and another straight-sets win here would secure his place in the final four once again. 

The pair’s ATP Head2Head series is knotted at 1-1 entering Wednesday, with Rublev spoiling the Serbian’s run in the final of his hometown tournament in Belgrade earlier this year. While Djokovic was short of his best after a long layoff in that April meeting, fading down the stretch as he surrendered a 6-0 third set, Rublev’s victory will nonetheless give him confidence entering Wednesday.

The sixth seed escaped a dramatic opening match against Medvedev that was chock full of highlight shots and marathon rallies. But Rublev may have been most proud of his mental composure in the contest.

“I’m trying to work on [my mental game]. Obviously I think the match today shows that I have improvements,” he said. “It’s just not easy to do it like this. It takes time. Especially me, myself, I have so much fire inside, it’s double tougher for me.

“Every person has his own weaknesses. For some players it’s tough to play aggressive; it takes time for them to learn how to play aggressive. Or opposite, to play more defence, to learn how to play defence. For some players it’s tough to improve serve. For some players it’s tough to improve the mental part.

“I guess I’m one of the ones who it’s tough to improve the mental part, and it takes the most time… It’s like the same with the forehand, backhand. If you have not good forehand or weak backhand, it takes a really long time to improve it. I know it by myself because all my life I had a really bad backhand, and it took me years to improve, to be able to be solid or hit sometimes winners. It took me years to improve. So it takes time.”

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As he seeks his first trip to the knockout rounds at the Nitto ATP Finals, the sixth seed will have both his mentality and his backhand tested by Djokovic.

The former world No. 1 is a master at prodding weaknesses. Against Tsitsipas, he took advantage of a slow start from the Greek to claim his only break of the match and kept the pressure on by holding in each of his 11 service games, facing just one break point. Now it’s Rublev’s turn to take the stress test.

As is so often the case with Djokovic, he is up against history in addition to a dangerous opponent. The five-time Nitto ATP Finals champ is bidding to match Roger Federer’s record six titles at the year-end event.

“Of course I’m aware of it,” Djokovic said of the opportunity. “Making history in this sport is always a big motivational factor for me. It doesn’t maybe necessarily affect the whole approach to the specific match, because I’m experienced enough and I know myself well and what I need to do in order to prepare for my next challenge and next opponent.

“But of course I’m aware of the possibility to make history again. It’s a great pleasure and honour to be in that position. So it does motivate me and inspire me to play even better tennis.”

Doubles Action

After both Green Group doubles contests were decided in Match Tie-breaks on Day 2, the four teams return to action on Wednesday with little separation in the standings. Following a 6-7(3), 6-4, 10-5 defeat to top seeds Koolhof and Skupski, Nitto ATP Finals debutants Kokkinakis and Kyrgios seek their first win at the event against Krajicek and Dodig.

“I think we had every opportunity to win this match today,” Kyrgios said after the opener. “Me and Thanasi are probably the outliers of every other doubles player here. We like to prioritise singles and we know we’re the better tennis players at the end of the day.”

The popular pair competed at just one event between the US Open and Turin — a semi-final run in Tokyo that was cut short by a Kyrgios knee injury.

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Krajicek and Dodig lost 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 against Croatians Mektic and Pavic on Monday and enter Day 4 in third place in the group with a superior percentage of games won compared to their Australian opponents.

Koolhof and Skupski will open Wednesday’s play at the Pala Alpitour against Mektic and Pavic, with the group lead up for grabs. The teams previously met in the Rome quarter-finals in May, with the Croatians earning a 6-4, 6-4 win en route to the ATP Masters 1000 title.



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