Djokovic Remains Undefeated In Turin After Marathon Win Over Medvedev

TURIN/WASHINGTON, November 18, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Novak Djokovic extended his perfect record at this week’s Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, Italy – but it was far from easy work.

The former World No. 1 needed more than three hours to improve to 3-0 after beating Daniel Medvedev, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2), to finish atop the Red Group at 3-0 at the Pala Alpitour Friday afternoon. It was Djokovic’s 40th victory of the season. He’s won 16 of his last 17 matches, which includes a pair of titles in Tel Aviv, Israel and Astana, Kazakhstan. It was also Medvedev’s third straight loss in a final-set tie-break this week.

Although Djokovic’s place in Saturday’s semifinals was already assured after earlier victories against No. 2 seeds Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and sixth-seeded Andrey Rublev of Russia, who met Friday night to decide who would join Djokovic from the Red Group and face Norway’s No. 3 seeds Casper Ruud in the other semifinal, the seventh-seeded Serbian was hungry for more success. By the end of the afternoon, he walked off the court a survivor.

While Medvedev served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, Djokovic broke back – one of his two breaks of the Russian’s serve – and then secured victory with a brilliant tie-break to conclude three hours and 11 minutes of high quality but grueling, physical play that took a lot out of both players. Djokovic improved to 8-4 lifetime against Medvedev, who lifted the 2020 ATP Finals trophy and was a finalist last year.

In his on-court interview afterward, Djokovic called his triumph a “huge relief.” He said: “Daniil and I had some battles in the past, I knew it was his last match of the season, he wasn’t going to want to finish the season with a loss. I started off very well. [I] had chances in the second [set], had some break points but he played very well in those decisive points. He was playing really fast.

“I didn’t feel physically so well in the third set to be honest. I’m really proud of being able to find the last drop of energy and necessary focus in order to come back into the match.”

On Saturday, the 35-year-old Djokovic will square off against No. 8 seeds Taylor Fritz (2-1) of the United States, who is 10 years younger. However, after playing not only the longest match of the week in Turin – it was also the longest match Djokovic has ever played in the ATP Finals – it remains to be seen how much energy the World No. 8 will have left and what his battle with Medvedev, who had little play for after already being eliminated, took out of him.

“At 4-5, I managed to read his serve and anticipate well and got myself in a good position,” Djokovic said. “I started off very well in the tie-break. Tough three matches for him, losing 7-6 in the third in all three matches. It is not easy, but he is an amazing player. I have a lot of respect for him and what a great battle.”

Djokovic hit 53 winners, including nine aces, committed 43 unforced errors and outpointed Medvedev, 138-119. The Russian countered with 16 aces and 47 winners but also racked up 35 unforced errors.

Medvedev was blunt – if not honest – in his match assessment during his press conference afterward when he was asked if there were any positives to take away from Friday’s loss. “No, that’s my answer, sorry. I mean, I guess it was a good fight, but no positives, no.”

The fourth-seeded Medvedev ended his 2022 season with a 45-19 win-loss record. After reaching the final at the Australian Open against Rafael NadalMedvedev went on to win a pair of tour-level titles at Los Cabos and Vienna.

“Medvedev is a great champion, an amazing player,” Djokovic said in praising his opponent. “He really challenged me in every way and I’m very happy I overcame that challenge.”

Top seeds Koolhof and Skupski win, then play waiting game to advance

World no. 1 team and top seeds Wesley Koolhoff of the Netherlands and Neal Skupski of Great Britain completed a must-win 7-5, 4-6, 10-6 victory over Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Austin Krajicek of the United States in an hour and 41 minutes Friday afternoon to complete a 2-1 slate in Green Group doubles.

“It was a tough one,” Koolhof admitted, quoted by the ATP Tour website. “We played it like a final, treated it like a final. We are happy to win.”

However, it wasn’t until Friday evening, after the fourth-seeded Croatia duo Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic defeated Australians Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), that the Dutch-British team, which has lifted seven trophies on the ATP Tour this season, was assured of advancing to Saturday’s semifinals as the No. 2 team from their group.

After their afternoon win, Skupski quipped: “We are going to watch the match. Maybe here or at the hotel. If Mektic and Pavic win, we will have a semifinal tomorrow and we will need to rest up. We will have our Croatian flags waving in our hotel room and hopefully they can do the job for us.”

On Saturday, Koolhof and Skupski will face the undefeated (3-0) Red Group leaders Rajeev Ram of the United States and Great Britain’s Joe Salisbury. The other doubles semifinal will match up Mektic and Pavic (3-0) against Lloyd Glasspool of Great Britain and Harri Heliovaara of Finland, who are 2-1. There will be three British players in the doubles last four.

Friday’s Nitto ATP Finals results

By the numbers

Stefanos Tsitsipas leads the ATP Tour with 11 tour-level semifinals this season, while Andrey Rublev is tied for second with nine. The former World No. 1 juniors are also among the Top-5 win leaders this season: Tsitsipas leads with 61 and Rublev is tied for fourth with 50.

“Quotable …”

“Just the fatigue of the battle. Exhaustion from the rallies and the length of the play. I felt fresh but I was like you always are, more nervous when you play one of your big rivals. The match was a showcase of the mentality we both have.”

Novak Djokovicduring his post-match press conference, sharing some of his physical issues and observations from his three-set, three-plus-hour win over Daniil Medvedev.

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