Djokovic and Nadal sent packing by Thiem and Medvedev at ATP Finals
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Whatever happens on Sunday it will mean a fifth consecutive first-time winner of the tournament.
“At 5-4 in the second set I decided to change some small things and start going for things a little more. I had to change and it worked really well,” said Medvedev, who was 100% in group play, including a win over Djokovic.
To put world No. 4 Medvedev’s win into perspective, Nadal had triumphed in the last 71 matches in which he had taken the first set.
Medvedev looked the more likely winner as he raced through his service games in the opening set while Nadal labored.
But the Spaniard pounced as Medvedev suffered a momentary dip at 3-4 and suddenly he was a set to the good.
Undeterred, Medvedev kept hammering away and Nadal dipped at the start of the second set, dropping serve with a double fault. Medvedev squandered a point for a 5-1 lead and paid the price as Nadal hurtled back to stand on the brink of victory.
Medvedev broke to love, though, and the set moved into a tiebreaker. A flukey forehand winner helped Medvedev into a 5-3 lead and he stayed composed to take it.
Nadal slowed under the relentless barrage in the third, but it was still a surprise to see him fade at the end, losing the last three games as Medvedev romped home.
Earlier in the empty arena, the 27-year-old Thiem saw four match points vanish in the second set tiebreak against Djokovic, one with a nervy double-fault, and it seemed he would pay a heavy price.
Djokovic, who is one short of Roger Federer’s titles record at the ATP Finals, led 4-0 in the deciding set tiebreak.