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Nadal vs Medvedev Nitto ATP Finals Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Nadal and Medvedev meet for the first time since their epic US Open final

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 13 Nov 2019
  • Rafael Nadal vs Daniil Medvedev is live from London on Wednesday, 13 November from 2:00pm local time/ 2:00pm GMT
  • Nadal leads the head-to-head 2-0
Rafael Nadal (PA Sport)

Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev aim to get off the mark at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals when they go head-to-head in London on Wednesday. 

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It's a repeat of their epic US Open final, which Nadal won in five sets after fending off a fierce fightback from Medvedev.

Seeded first and fourth respectively, Nadal and Medvedev are the highest ranked players in their group, but they are having to play catch-up early on after losing their respective opening matches on Monday. Nadal was comprehensively dismissed by an inspired Alexander Zverev- the defending champion winning 6-2 6-4- while Medvedev was edged out by Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6 6-4. 

The beauty of the round-robin format of the Nitto ATP Finals is that it gives the players a second chance, and possibly a third chance to rectify a poor result- and whoever wins on Wednesday gets right back on track in the hunt for semi-final places. However, defeat could result into elimination from the tournament, depending on the outcome of the later match between Tsitsipas and Zverev. 

The 33-year-old Nadal arrived London under a heavy injury cloud, after failing to take the court for his Paris Masters semi-final against Denis Shapovalov due to an abdominal injury, and there were more question marks over his fitness following his lopsided loss to Zverev in his opening match on Monday night. The Spaniard however insisted that he was fully fit for the match, even though he suggested that he might have been lacking match sharpness because of his inability to train properly in the days leading up to the tournament.

“No complaint about the physical condition. No pain in abdominal. That's the only positive thing, honestly. That's all. Happy the way that [the] abdominal [felt], and hopefully I can continue like this, because it's true that I was not able to create a lot of practice and a lot of effort on that part of the body since last Saturday,” Nadal said.  
“I stay positive. I stay competitive, something that today I was not… That's the thing that I am more disappointed [with], because knowing that I will not be at my 100 per cent in terms of feelings, in terms of movement, in terms of confidence or hitting the ball, I needed my best competitive spirit this afternoon, and I was not there in that way.”

The 19-time major champion started well enough, holding serve twice to take a 2-1 lead, but Zverev went on an absolute tear after that, winning seven successive games to open up a 6-2 2-0 lead. The defending champion never looked like relinquishing that advantage, and went on to close out a superb win after an hour and 24 minutes.

Nadal struggled to find depth on his groundstrokes against Zverev, repeatedly dropping the ball short, and inviting the German to go on the attack- the ultra-aggressive Zverev accept the invitation with aplomb. The Spaniard finished with 12 winners and 19 unforced errors, dropping serve three times and failing to create a single break point on the Zverev serve, which in fairness, was magnificent all through the contest.

Defeat against Zverev was Nadal's first loss since he was beaten by Roger Federer in the Wimbledon semi-finals. He had won his last 13 matches post-Wimbledon, winning titles in Montreal and the US Open to take his 2019 tally to four. The great man had earlier claimed clay-court successes in Rome and Roland Garros, where he became champion for a staggering 12th time. 

Nadal is locked in a tight battle with Novak Djokovic for the year-end No. 1 ranking, with the Spaniard's lead over his Serbian rival now down to just 440 points following the opening group matches at the Nitto ATP Finals. The world No. 1 gets another opportunity to boost his semi-final chances in London, and simultaneously, enhance his hopes of ending the year on top of the rankings when he takes on Medvedev on Wednesday.

After reaching six consecutive finals between the Citi Open in Washington at the start of August and the Shanghai Masters in early October, winning 29 of 32 matches, and three titles during an incredible spell, Medvedev has now lost his last two matches, falling to Jeremy Chardy in his opening match at the Paris Masters, and suffering the same fate at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he was beaten by Stefanos Tsitsipas in his tournament opener.

Wednesday will make it exactly a month since Medvedev last won a match- his last victory coming against Alexander Zverev at the Shanghai Masters final on 13 October. Following Shanghai, he pulled out of tournaments in Vienna and Moscow, which was understandable as he definitely needed some rest given all the matches he had played up that point, but that little break might have diluted some of the intensity and ruthlessness that characterized his superb run during the North American and Asian swings.

I thought Medvedev looked a little flat against Tsitsipas in his Nitto ATP Finals opener on Monday, losing to the Greek for the first time in six meetings. It was a closely fought contest, as the 7-6 6-4 scoreline suggests, but it was Tsitsipas who upped his level at the critical moments, while Medvedev couldn't make the most of the half chances he was presented. Credit to Tsitsipas, who stayed clutch on the big points, serving superbly to deny Medvedev any break points.

Regardless of whatever happens in the remainder of the week, Medvedev can look back at a quite remarkable season, during which he claimed titles in Sofia, Cincinnati, Shanghai and St. Petersburg, reached finals in Brisbane, Barcelona, Washington, Toronto and of course the US Open, and rose to No. 4 in the world.

The Nitto ATP Finals debutant will want to finish off in style though, and his London hopes are heavily reliant on a first victory over Rafael Nadal on Wednesday. 

Nadal has won both of their previous matches, in Montreal and the US Open this year, but Medvedev gave the Spaniard an almighty scare at Flushing Meadows, and should arguably have won that match, having fought back from two sets down to force a fifth. The key to that fightback was aggression, with Medvedev departing from his default counterpunching style and taking the game to Nadal.

He's got to repeat those tactics, much like Zverev did, if he's to get past Nadal on Wednesday. He definitely has the weapons, with the big serve and the flat, hard ground strokes to make life very uncomfortable for Nadal. Having said that, Zverev played at a ridiculously high level to beat Nadal, I'm not sure Medvedev can consistently touch those heights.

I expect Nadal, being the fighter that he is, to offer some sort of response after his heavy loss to Zverev. He did get better and better as that match approached its conclusion, and should continue in that trajectory on Wednesday.

The big concern is his fitness, but if he says he's OK, we have to believe him, no?

Rafael Nadal vs Daniil Medvedev is live from London on Wednesday, 13 November from 2:00pm local time/ 2:00pm GMT

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Nadal vs Medvedev Nitto ATP Finals Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Nadal and Medvedev meet for the first time since their epic US Open final

Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev meet for the first time since the US Open final as they attempt to get their Nitto ATP Finals campaign back on track. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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