Rivalries Of 2023: Medvedev vs. Zverev
After a one-year hiatus in their long-running Lexus ATP Head2Head rivalry, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev made up for lost time with six Lexus ATP Head2Head meetings in 2023. Four of those matchups came at the ATP Masters 1000 level and the sixth came at the Nitto ATP Finals, with Medvedev posting a 5-1 record to improve to 11-7 in the overall series.
At the end of a resurgent year for both stars, ATPTour.com looks back on their six meetings from 2023.
Indian Wells R16, Medvedev d. Zverev 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-5
In an eventful matchup at the BNP Paribas Open, Medvedev survived a stern challenge from Zverev and a twisted ankle suffered during a fall in the second set. He hit 40 winners in a gritty victory that extended his winning streak to 17 matches.
On the brink of defeat and with a tape job on his right ankle, Medvedev fought off 10 break points in the second set, including two escapes from 0/40. Early in the tie-break, he produced one of the shots of the season with a brilliant defensive smash as he began to take control of the match. While he missed out on a match point on serve at 5-4 in the final set, Medvedev managed to close out the victory by serving out the win at the second time of asking after a late break.
“When I twisted [my ankle], I thought I was going to stand up just fine,” Medvedev said of his dramatic fall. “But then the pain started growing very fast, so I was like ‘That is not a good sign.’ I felt like I didn’t break it but I felt that one of the ligaments was a little injured, so I thought I wasn’t going to be able to play.”
Monte-Carlo R16, Medvedev d. Zverev 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(7)
For the second straight time against Zverev, Medvedev rallied from a set down to claim a tense three-set win. If he was on the ropes in Indian Wells, he was down on the canvas at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, where Zverev twice served for the match and missed out on two match points.
Medvedev denied the German’s attempts to serve out the win at 5-4 in both the second and third sets, then erased two match points in the third-set tie-break.
“That was a crazy match,” Medvedev said of the matchup, which featured a combined 11 service breaks amidst peaks and valleys for both players.
“He served two times for the match, he probably should have done better, but that is also clay courts. I tried to watch a lot of tennis before playing this tournament, and one thing that I saw is you can come back at any moment. The serve doesn’t count as much, so as soon as someone gets a little bit tight, the match can turn around in one second. That’s what I managed to do.”
Rome R16, Medvedev d. Zverev 6-2, 7-6(3)
Medvedev entered the 2023 Internazionali BNL d’Italia with an 0-3 record in Rome, but he strung together six wins at the ATP Masters 1000 to claim his first clay-court title. After a three-set win in the second round, Medvedev kicked his campaign into high gear with a straight-sets win against Zverev; he would not lose a set the rest of the tournament.
Zverev struggled to break down Medvedev’s defenses on the clay, even with his big serving, but the German recovered a break in the second set to force a tie-break. Undeterred, Medvedev reasserted himself down the stretch by dominating the baseline exchanges to seal his quarter-final place.
Cincinnati R16, Zverev d. Medvedev 6-4, 5-7, 6-4
In another three-set classic between these two rivals, Zverev picked up his first win against Medvedev since the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals title match. It was also Zverev’s first Top 10 win of the season.
At the Western & Southern Open, Zverev better handled the windy conditions in the key moments to prevail, saving two break points at 4-4 in the final set before breaking serve in the next game to wrap up the win in two hours, 34 minutes.
“It was very difficult conditions against a very difficult opponent,” said Zverev, who hit 36 winners in the victory. “He gives you nothing and you have to win the match yourself and that is what I did today and I am pleased with that.
“I tried to be patient and you just have to take your chances, your opportunities. You are not going to get many because we were both serving quite well. I lost three very tight matches [against Medvedev] earlier this year, so I am pleased to have finally won one today.”
Beijing SF, Medvedev d. Zverev 6-4, 6-3
Less than two months after Cincinnati, Medvedev gained swift revenge on his rival with victory in a match of fine-margins at the China Open.
In a semi-final filled with lung-busting rallies, Medvedev secured a late break in each set to earn the win. Both breaks were claimed in supreme style with a pair of clutch passing shots, including on set point in the opening set.
Zverev had his chances too, but Medvedev saved all four breaks points he faced — two in each set — with timely big serves.
Nitto ATP Finals RR, Medvedev d. Zverev 7-6(7), 6-4
In this battle of former Nitto ATP Finals champions, Medvedev defeated Zverev to secure his place in the Turin semi-finals. The matchup was the pair’s sixth of the 2023 season and their fifth at the Nitto ATP Finals, nearing Pete Sampras and Boris Becker’s record of seven matchups at the season finale.
Medvedev stormed out of the gates but Zverev was in the ascendancy late in the opening set with his aggressive tactics. With his back against the wall, Medvedev saved two set points in a tense opening tie-break and later fought off a break point late in set two before breaking to end the match.
“It was a very tough match mentally,” said Medvedev, who won 40 of 51 (78%) of his first-serve points. “The end of both sets was very tight… In the tie-break he had set point on his serve. I’m happy because this year I might have lost some matches like this. I’m happy to be able to win.”