Rafael Nadal produced an incredible fightback to beat Russian Daniil Medvedev and keep his ATP Finals hopes alive on Wednesday, saving a match point at 1-5 down in the decider before winning 6-7(3) 6-3 7-6(4).
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 13, 2019
The world number one will now likely require a victory over in-form Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday to reach the semi-finals. Tsitsipas, 21, booked his place in the last four by thrashing Alexander Zverev 6-3 6-2 in the evening match.
Nadal looked beaten as 23-year-old debutant Medvedev broke serve twice in the decider to stand on the brink of a first career victory over the Spaniard he pushed to five sets in an epic U.S. Open final in September.
For once world number one Nadal’s trademark fighting spirit seemed to have ebbed away but he saved a match point at 1-5 with a superb drop shot and was suddenly re-energised.
Twice Medvedev served for the match, at 5-2 and 5-4, but he tightened up and world number one Nadal, roared on by the 02 Arena crowd, needed no second invitation to take advantage.
Nadal has never won the ATP Finals title, the only gap on a CV that includes 19 Grand Slam titles and Olympic gold.
He was beaten by German defending champion Zverev for the first time on Monday in his opening round-robin match and defeat by Medvedev, who he had also never lost to before, would have left him on the brink of elimination.
After an astonishing recovery, however, he will go into his final group game against Tsitsipas with everything to play for as he bids to not only win the title for the first time but also seal the year-end world number one ranking.
TSITSIPAS THRASHES ZVEREV TO ENTER SEMIS
Debutant Stefanos Tsitsipas crushed defending champion Alexander Zverev 6-3 6-2 on Wednesday to book his place in the last four of the ATP Finals with a match to spare.
The 21-year-old, the first Greek player to qualify for the elite eight-man season-ender, backed up his opening win over Daniil Medvedev with a virtuoso performance at the O2 Arena.
His straight-sets victory secured a top-two place in the group and left Zverev, world number one Rafael Nadal and Medvedev scrapping to join him in Saturday’s semi-finals.
The evening clash was the youngest, in terms of combined age, at the ATP Finals since Andy Murray played Juan Martin del Potro in 2009, but produced a performance of maturity and sustained quality by Tsitsipas to leave Zverev, 22, in his wake.
Zverev defeated 19-times Grand Slam champion Nadal in his opening match on Monday, having beaten Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic back-to-back to win last year’s title, but he had no answer to the all-court game of Tsitsipas.