Rafael Nadal produced an unbelievable fightback to beat Russian Daniil Medvedev and keep his ATP Finals hope alive on Wednesday, saving a match point at 1-5 down in the decider before engaging 6-7(3) 6-3 7-6(4).The world number one will need a victory over in-form Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday to have a opportunity of reaching the semi-finals.
Rafael (23) look firm as young debutant Medvedev broke serve twice in the decider to rise on the brink of a 1st time win against the Spaniard he pushed to 5 sets in September in a grand U.S. Open final. For once world number one Nadal’s trademark struggling spirit seemed to have ebbed away but he obtained a match point at 1-5 with a great drop shot and was rapidly re-energised.
Twice Medvedev played for the match, at 5-2 and 5-4, but he gave tough competition to the world number 1 Rafael, roared on by the 02 Arena crowd, Rafael has not won the ATP Finals title, the only space on a CV that includes 19 Grand Slam titles and Olympic gold.
He was packed down by German shielding champion Zverev for the 1st time on Monday in his opening round-robin match and defeat by Medvedev, who he have not defeated with before, would have left him on the edge of exclusion. After an surprising recovery, however, he will go into his final group match against Tsitsipas with everything to play for as he bids to not only win the title for the first time but also stick down to the year-end world number 1 ranking.
Rafael arrived in London with the problem of abdominal injury, but even when he is not in his sharpest position, he remains one of the hardest players on the Tour to finish off the match. He said that he was very lucky to gain this on court. For Daniil it’s a hard-hitting loss. He was playing much better than Rafael in the 3rd set but it was one of the biggest opportunity to win.
The unrepresentatively powerful Medvedev dropped only 6 points in the opening set and comfortably managed the tiebreak. His focus dipped at the start of the 2nd round, allowing Rafael a quick break and when the Spaniard broke again to take the round it seemed the momentum was with him.