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Medvedev: 'My Serve Didn't Really Have That Spark'

  • Posted: Nov 21, 2021

Daniil Medvedev looked set to retain his Nitto ATP Finals crown on Sunday, having won his past five matches against Alexander Zverev, but the Russian missed his service “spark” in the title match.

Five days on from beating the German 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-6(6) in Red Group play, Medvedev was at a loss to explain his service woes at the Pala Alpitour in Turin.

“It’s tough to say, maybe some tiredness of the body, maybe mentally I wasn’t 100 per cent,” said Medvedev, after Zverev won 6-4, 6-4 in the final. “Not that I didn’t want to be, but definitely something was missing. I don’t have the answer, but it made the difference.

“Even when [my serve] was going on the line, it didn’t really have that spark. It wasn’t enough for Sascha, who is a great player and broke me two times. Sometimes, in a way, it’s not bad, but when you’re playing in a big final on a fast surface against someone who is serving like Sascha, it’s enough to win the match. We can talk about many things, but the serve was definitely the key today, and he was better.”

Medvedev hit 59 aces and won a tournament-leading 61 per cent of his second-service points (79/129) in his five matches at the season finale, but the Russian couldn’t beat Zverev for the third time in as many weeks.

“We all try to do something different, to prepare differently or play differently,” said Medvedev, who had also beaten Zverev 6-2, 6-2 at the Rolex Paris Masters on 6 November. “I felt he was doing something differently. Maybe I lost the first break of serve [at 1-1 in the first set] because of this, but at the same time if you make aces you get into the match.

“I tried to change up things I’d been doing, and I felt it was working well, but I just couldn’t return his serve and it was enough for him to win the match… Every time you know he is going to do something new and you have to be prepared for it and the same for them. This time he won, but next time I will try to do something better and try to do something better than him and win.”

In spite of the loss, Medvedev will finish 2021 at No. 2 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, having compiled a 58-13 match record and lifted four trophies. He went 11-5 against Top 10 opponents, including victory over Djokovic in the US Open final in September, and a runner-up finish at the Australian Open (l. to Djokovic) in February.

Photo: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Medvedev believes that Zverev is getting closer to winning a major championship. “Sascha is a great player who is capable of beating anybody, so he definitely can win a Grand Slam, because it’s just obvious.

“But he’s not the only one and that’s where it gets tough. He was in the semi-finals of the US Open and lost in five sets [to Novak Djokovic]. Who knows maybe if he was in the final he might have beaten me. It’s just a matter of every tournament is a different scenario and surface, you have to win seven matches to be a Grand Slam champion. Is he capable? Yes. Is he going to do it? We never know.”

In 2021, Zverev won an ATP Tour-leading 59 matches and six tour-level trophies, including the Tokyo Olympics gold medal (d. Khachanov) and two ATP Masters 1000 title at the Mutua Madrid Open (d. Berrettini) and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati (d. Rublev).

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Five Takeaways From The 2021 Nitto ATP Finals

  • Posted: Nov 21, 2021

Alexander Zverev ended the ATP Tour season on a high Sunday evening when he defeated Daniil Medvedev for the Nitto ATP Finals title, completing a thrilling week in Turin. looks back at five takeaways from the week at the season finale.

1) Zverev Captures The Title
It is safe to say Zverev earned his second Nitto ATP Finals title. After losing against Medvedev in a final-set tie-break in round-robin play, he clawed into the semi-finals and never looked back.

The German eliminated World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in a gripping three-setter in the last four and then served past Medvedev 6-4, 6-4 in the championship match to claim the trophy. Zverev is the fourth player in Nitto ATP Finals history to defeat the top two players in the FedEx ATP Rankings in the semi-finals and final, joining Ivan Lendl (1982), Stefan Edberg (1989) and Andre Agassi (1990).

“It is special, and I am super thrilled and happy right now,” Zverev added. “There is no better way to end the season than winning here. I am incredibly happy and I am already looking forward to next year.”

Zverev previously captured the crown at The O2 in London three years ago, when he defeated Djokovic and Roger Federer en route to his victory. He finishes 2021 tied for his career-high FedEx ATP Ranking of World No. 3.

This was the fifth consecutive year a player outside the Big Four of Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray has won the Nitto ATP Finals. Zverev is the only person who has triumphed twice during that span.

Alexander Zverev
Photo Credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
2) Medvedev Falls Just Short Of Title Defence
Medvedev appeared well-positioned to successfully defend his Nitto ATP Finals title, but fell just short at the season finale.

For the second consecutive year, the Russian advanced to the championship match with an undefeated 4-0 record. But while he rallied from a set down last year against Dominic Thiem for the title, he was unable to battle back against Zverev, who did not lose serve in the final to snap the World No. 2’s nine-match winning streak at the event.

Medvedev did not become the first repeat Nitto ATP Finals champion since Djokovic’s four-peat from 2012-15, but that will not stop him from pushing to win the biggest events.

“I will try to do my best, try to win more titles, try to be in the finals of big tournaments,” Medvedev said.

Daniil Medvedev
Photo Credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
3) Herbert/Mahut Triumph Again
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut lost their second Red Group match against Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury in a Match Tie-break. But the third seeds got their revenge on Sunday when they stormed past the American-British duo in straight sets to lift the Nitto ATP Finals trophy for the second time.

Herbert and Mahut became the eighth team — and the first all-French pair — to win the season finale on multiple occasions. This was their sixth appearance as a duo at the year-end championships.

“It is an amazing feeling winning here for a second time,” Mahut said. “We lost to them in the round robin, when they played amazing, and today we knew we had to play our best level. I think we played our best match of the week. Finishing the season like this is a great achievement.”

Team Herbert, Mahut
Photo Credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
4) Successful Move To Turin
The Nitto ATP Finals made its debut in Turin this year after a 12-year stay in London. The city embraced the event from the moment the players arrived until the last ball when fans cheered Zverev’s victory.

“What does make it so special in Italy is the fans, because the fans are absolutely insane. It’s the loudest crowd, it’s the most energetic crowd,” Zverev said. “Rome every year is one of my favourite tournaments of the year. I think this one has topped it and I can’t wait to play in Italy every single time in my career. I love Italy so much and I hope Italy loves tennis just as much.”

There was signage throughout the city promoting the event as well as a fan village in the Piazza San Carlo, where there were various activations to bring fans closer to the season finale. The players also surprised the fans on the Friday before the tournament when they walked through the city to take the event’s official photo.

Turin is the 15th different city to host the Nitto ATP Finals. It was initially held in Tokyo in 1970.

Nitto ATP Finals
Photo Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for ATP
5) Sinner’s Shining Moment
One of the most emotional moments of the event came during round-robin play. When home favourite Matteo Berrettini withdrew due to a left oblique injury before his second match, first alternate Jannik Sinner, another Italian, stepped in with just a few hours’ notice before he had to face Miami Open presented by Itau champion Hubert Hurkacz.

With the full support of the crowd inside the Pala Alpitour, Sinner played a flawless match to beat the Pole 6-2, 6-2. Before doing his on-court interview, the home favourite had to step away from the microphone several times because of the booming standing ovation the crowd was giving him.

“The atmosphere is amazing, everyone cheering here for me and for Italy,” Sinner said. “Playing in Italy is special because you stick together and you want to win together, and I had this feeling today. When the whole stadium is playing [with you] against one guy, it’s not easy.”

Jannik Sinner
Photo Credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

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Zverev Reigns Supreme In Turin

  • Posted: Nov 21, 2021

Alexander Zverev captured his second Nitto ATP Finals title Sunday, overcoming World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-4 to end his standout 2021 season in style in Turin.

The German defeated World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals and backed that up against Medvedev in an impressive performance. Zverev imposed his powerful game on the Russian as he stepped inside the court to outmanoeuvre the 25-year-old, who sat deep behind the baseline, to secure victory after 75 minutes.

With his victory, Zverev has become just the fourth player in the tournament’s history to earn semi-final and final wins over the Top 2 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The World No. 3 fired seven aces, hit 22 winners and did not face a break point in his statement win over the Russian.

“It was great,” Zverev said in his on-court interview. “I won the [Nitto ATP] Finals, in the final against someone I had lost five times in a row, so I had to play one of my best matches. I am happy about that and happy to go on holiday with this win.”


The 24-year-old, who fell to Medvedev in the round-robin stage, has repeated what he achieved in London in 2018 when he won the title by reversing a round-robin loss to the player he faced in the championship match. The third seed beat Djokovic to clinch his first season finale trophy three years ago.

“It is special, and I am super thrilled and happy right now,” Zverev added. “There is no better way to end the season than winning here. I am incredibly happy and I am already looking forward to next year.”

Zverev has now earned a tour-leading 59 victories this season and has snapped a five-match losing streak against Medvedev, levelling their ATP Head2Head series at 6-6. The 25-year-old defeated Zverev at the ATP Cup and Rolex Paris Masters in 2021.

Earlier this year, the World No. 3 captured two ATP Masters 1000 crowns in Madrid and Cincinnati and won the Tokyo Olympic singles gold medal. The 19-time tour-level champion also triumphed in Acapulco and Vienna and has won 32 of his past 36 matches since Wimbledon.

Zverev made a strong start against Medvedev as he dominated the longer rallies, striking his powerful groundstrokes down the middle of the court to reduce the angles available for the Russian to hit. The 24-year-old broke in the third game and was consistent and accurate on serve throughout the first set, hitting his spots as he won 89 per cent (16/18) of points behind his first delivery to move ahead.

Fuelled by momentum and backed by the vocal crowd inside the Pala Alpitour, the German broke again immediately at the start of the second set. Zverev combined his powerful serving with big ball striking as he continued to raise his level under pressure, showcasing his determination and quality to secure the biggest title of his season.

Medvedev had won his past nine matches at the Nitto ATP Finals, having beaten Dominic Thiem in the final last year to lift The Brad Drewett Trophy, after going 0-3 on debut in 2019.

This year, the 25-year-old captured his maiden major title at the US Open when he downed Djokovic to end the Serbian’s Grand Slam bid and lifted his fourth Masters 1000 trophy in Toronto, holding a 58-13 record on the season.

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Herbert/Mahut Claim Second Nitto ATP Finals Crown

  • Posted: Nov 21, 2021

Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut captured their second Nitto ATP Finals doubles crown in three years on Sunday.

The third seeds avenged their Red Group loss to second-seeded American Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain earlier this week with a 6-4, 7-6(0) final victory in one hour and 32 minutes at the Pala Alpitour in Turin.

“It is an amazing feeling winning here for a second time,” said Mahut. “We lost to them in the round robin, when they played amazing, and today we knew we had to play our best level. I think we played out best match of the week. Finishing the season like this is a great achievement.”

Herbert said: “They were playing really well on our break points, but we were pushing hard the whole match. We went to the tie-break and for sure there was a bit of stress, but Nico de-stressed me with a great return on the first point. Nico is playing better and better with age.”

Herbert and Mahut earned the 20th team title of their careers, adding to the 2019 season finale trophy they lifted over Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus, when the prestigious event was played at The O2 in London. The pair also captured two other crowns in 2021 at Roland Garros (d. Bublik/Golubev) and the cinch Championships in London (d. Opelka/Peers).

Team Herbert, Mahut
Photo: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Mahut created the first break of the match with a superb return down the line that caught Ram off guard. Herbert subsequently sealed the 2-1 advantage in the first set with a forehand winner down the middle. The Frenchmen remained solid overhead and could have taken a 4-1 lead with a break of Ram’s serve, only for the 37-year-old American to recover four straight points. Herbert and Mahut did not lost a point on first serve (20/25 service points won overall) in the 38-minute set.

Ram and Salisbury held their nerve under mounting pressure at 2-2 and 3-3 in the second set, with both players saving deciding Deuce points in their service games. In contrast, their opponents did not face a break point and raised their return games to dominate the tie-break. 

Herbert, 30, and 39-year-old Mahut are the first team to reach three Nitto ATP Finals championship matches in a four-year span since Indians Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes lost title matches in 1997, 1999 and 2000. The French team is now 34-12 in 2021.

Ram and Salisbury saved two match points to beat Herbert and Mahut 6-7(7), 6-0, 13-11 in the round-robin stage on Wednesday in Turin. The American-British tandem end their season with a 44-17 match record, having won title titles at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers in Toronto (d. Mektic/Pavic) and the US Open (d. Murray/Soares).

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Djokovic Reveals What 'Is More Important Than Winning Or Losing'

  • Posted: Nov 21, 2021

Novak Djokovic suffered a stinging defeat on Saturday evening in the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals against Alexander Zverev, but he still had a big smile on his face as he embraced the German at the net.

They are foes on the court, but friends off it with plenty of respect for one another win or lose.

“Of course we want to win against each other, but there is that respect and appreciation for each other that is more important than winning or losing. That’s something that I always had with Sascha. I really appreciate that,” Djokovic said. “I wish him all the best. He’s a great guy, fantastic tennis player, I’m sure soon to be a Grand Slam champion.”

Zverev also ended Djokovic’s dreams of completing a Golden Slam earlier this year in the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics. Although the Serbian was disappointed not to triumph in Turin and tie Roger Federer’s record for most Nitto ATP Finals titles (6), he did not show it when congratulating the 2018 champion.

“Sascha is also a friend off the court. We get along very well. Not easy to be very close obviously when you’re rivals, playing that much against each other on the biggest stage,” Djokovic said. “But we talk a lot about life, about a lot of different things. I’m always happy to share some of my experiences with him. We’ve always had a wonderful relationship.”

Djokovic dominated on his serve for much of the match — he won 87 per cent of his first-serve points, fired 15 aces and was only broken once. But Zverev also served well, taking 63 per cent of his second-serve points. One of those second-serve points came when the German faced break point at 4-2 in the third set, and he got out of trouble when the World No. 1 launched a neutral forehand long.

“He’s one of the best servers in the world… He showed tonight why that is a fact. He got himself out of trouble a few times with [his] serve,” Djokovic said. “I was serving pretty good, as well. I just had the one very bad game in the third set. Three forehands, one backhand unforced error, really from pretty easy positions. [I] just really wasted the match in that game. Even though I thought it was quite even, had some chances to come back, 2-4 down in the third, just missed again, a forehand long.

“[It was a] tough match. But I enjoyed it. I thought it was a really good battle, really high-quality tennis. We pushed each other, as we always do.”

The match lasted two hours and 28 minutes, but Djokovic was adamant he was not tired. He simply played one bad game in the decider and it cost him.

“I could have gone for another few hours, no problem. It was just a bad game, 2-1 down in the third set, a very bad game, four unforced errors,” Djokovic said. “In the conditions like this where you have one of the biggest servers in the game, it’s just difficult to come back from that. That’s all it is.”

Djokovic still had a tremendous season. In 2021, he broke Federer’s mark for the most weeks at World No. 1 and finished atop the year-end FedEx ATP Rankings for a record-breaking seventh time — passing his idol, Pete Sampras.

The recent Rolex Paris Masters champion also claimed three major titles at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon to draw level with Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most in history with 20. This was also his 10th trip to the semi-finals of the season finale.

“It was a great season, no doubt. I did not play many tournaments, but still managed to end the year at No. 1 for the seventh time, broke records for the year-end No. 1, historic No. 1, won three out of [the] four Slams,” Djokovic said. “The year was phenomenal. Maybe could have done better in some other ATP events. But all in all really good ending of the season as well with a title in Paris and semi-finals here.”

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