Fresh from a huge win, Stefanos Tsitsipas tries to overturn an 0-4 record against Daniil Medvedev as the two young guns vie for a place in the Shanghai Rolex Masters final.
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Stefanos Tsitsipas will have to get his first win over Daniil Medvedev in five attempts if he is to stop the Russian from reaching his sixth straight final at the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
On a day of shocks at the penultimate Masters 1000 Series of the year which produced the youngest semifinal lineup in living memory – all four players remaining in the draw are aged 23 or younger – Medvedev is both the oldest of the four semifinalists, and the one whose progression to the semifinal stage was most widely expected.
Two months older than Matteo Berrettini, who is also 23, Medvedev was also the only one of the four to beat a lower-seeded player as he defeated Fabio Fognini 6-3, 7-6(4), and victory for the Russian felt more or less routine – not because Fognini’s not a dangerous player (he is, albeit sometimes mainly to himself) but because winning has become a seemingly unkickable habit for Medvedev.
The world no. 4 is now just one win away from reaching his sixth final in as many tournaments, a run that stretches back to the beginning of August (the last time Medvedev lost before the final of a tournament, it was at Wimbledon where he went out to David Goffin in five sets in the third round). Since that defeat, Medvedev is 27-3, winning two titles including his maiden Masters 1000 Series crown in Cincinnati and finishing runner-up at four events including the 500-level Citi Open, the Canada Masters and the US Open, where he pushed Rafael Nadal to five sets in a memorable final.
Now the undisputed leader in ATP Tour matches won this year, Medvedev finally took a break of a couple of weeks after winning St Petersburg, but his rhythm has appeared unaffected this week in Shanghai where he has yet to drop a set. Pushed hardest, perhaps, by Vasek Pospisil – who was serving exceptionally well this week – in a 7-6(7), 7-5 victory in the third round, Medvedev largely dominated the first set against Fognini but had to work a lot harder in the second set, eventually closing the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters champion out in a tie-break. It was Medvedev’s own serving which shone in this encounter, which saw him serve 12 aces and win 46 of 44 points behind his first serve – no mean feat when also serving at 77%. He did not face a single break point.
‘I was serving probably the best match of the season. I mean, my serve today, I don’t know what happened. I was just crushing it,’ Medvedev said.
The role of authoring the most stunning victory of the day, however, did not go to Medvedev. That honour went to Stefanos Tsitsipas, who followed up last week’s run to the China Open final by pulling off quite a brilliant win against Novak Djokovic.
Tsitsipas recovered from a poor start and came back from a set down to beat Djokovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 in a match of huge significance for the Greek, as he became one of just a handful of men to beat all of the Big Three in a season, today’s win augmenting his Australian Open victory over Roger Federer and his Madrid Open defeat of Rafael Nadal.
Tsitsipas had already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals before the match by dint of Medvedev’s win over Fognini, but he didn’t know that, and the victory became even more special for him when he found out that he had secured his debut spot at the season-ending championships.
Djokovic did not play badly, even if he couldn’t sustain the high note on which he started the match when he won 12 of the first 14 points, and Tsitsipas won the second set mainly by serving well and pouncing immediately when Djokovic showed weakness at 5-6 (the kind of treatment Djokovic excels at dealing out to other players, in fact). But the Greek really spread his wings in the third set and ended the match on a high, and his serving, too, was impressive: 11 aces, and if he lost ten points behind his first serve compared to Medvedev’s two, it has to be borne in mind that Tsitsipas was facing a far superior returner.
It’s difficult to remember that Tsitsipas came into Beijing on a five-match losing streak that saw him go through the biggest events of the American summer without winning a single match, but it shows how quickly things can change and the world no. 7 certainly came into Shanghai with plenty of confidence after making the China Open final, even if he did lose that final to Dominic Thiem. Now into his third Masters 1000 Series semifinal of the season, Tsitsipas’s challenge is to make his third Masters final, but to do that he will have to not just end Medvedev’s run of finals reached, but get his first ever win over the Russian after losing all four of their previous matches.
‘He has a very different tennis from most of the players that I have been playing against this year,’ Tsitsipas said. ‘He’s a very mental player, I would say. So, this win over Novak is a boost. It does help. It makes me feel good about my tennis, about my game.
‘Tomorrow is going to be a new challenge for me. I hope I feel well. I hope it’s going to be a fresh, new Stefanos out on this court showing his best tennis and playing smart and making him play out of his comfort zone.’
While Medvedev has won all four of their previous matches, Tsitsipas has taken a set in each of them, which suggests it isn’t the case that there’s no route to victory for him against Medvedev – probably more that it’s difficult for him to sustain the level and nature of the tennis he needs to play to beat the Russian.
I would say that Tsitsipas’s excellent serving against Djokovic stands him in good stead for Saturday’s semifinal encounter, but Medvedev served brilliantly himself against Fognini and, coupled with the speed of the court in Shanghai, that promises a tight match likely to be settled by a minimum of breaks or, quite possibly, tie-breaks (these two have never played a tie-break against each other). With margins narrow and plenty of uncertainty, you have to back the man who has had the best of their previous encounters, so it seems likely that Medvedev will bring Tsitsipas back down to earth on Saturday – and make his sixth straight final to boot.
Medvedev vs Tsitsipas Shanghai Masters tennis is live from Shanghai on Saturday at 4.30pm local/9.30am BST
Medvedev vs Tsitsipas tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Tsitsipas stop Medvedev from reaching sixth straight final in Shanghai?
Fresh from a huge win, Stefanos Tsitsipas tries to overturn an 0-4 record against Daniil Medvedev as the two young…
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