SHANGHAI, October 13, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)
A year ago, Alexander Zverev was the highest-ranked player on the ATP Tour under age 24. However, Daniil Medvedev has assumed that role 12 months later with his remarkable break-out year in which he has compiled the most tour victories – including most ATP Masters 1000 wins – and competed in the most tour finals. As the two talented #NextGenATP alums met for the first time this season in the Rolex Shanghai Masters singles final Sunday afternoon in Shanghai, China – culminating a week in which the Next Generation stepped up to become a focal part of the Now Generation of men’s tennis – the World No. 4 Medvedev gave the appreciative fans something new. The 23-year-old Moscow native, seeded third, came to play, he did his job efficiently – and, not surprisingly, he won, 6-4, 6-1, over Zverev in just one hour and 13 minutes.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) October 13, 2019
“Everyone is talking that they need new guys, something new,” said Medvedev during an on-court TV interview shortly after he won his second straight Masters 1000 title and denied the fifth seed Zverev, 22, an opportunity to win his fourth Masters 1000 overall and first of the year. “So, I gave them something new.
“I don’t celebrate my wins, I just stay calm and do my job. Boom, done.”
On this particular wet October day, with the roof closed over Center Court at Qizhong Tennis Center due to rain, there was no denying Medvedev. He won his 59th ATP Tour match of 2019, including his 46th on a hard-court surface. Also, his comprehensive triumph over Zverev was his 22nd Masters 1000 win – and it came in his tour-leading ninth final of the year, which includes six straight final appearances.
“It’s something outrageous that I’ve done in the last few months,” said Medvedev, who came into the Shanghai final with an 0-4 lifetime win-loss record against Zverev, all on hard courts. “I have been working for it. I just take it and I hope I’m going to do much more.”
Before the match, Medvedev said he thought before this year and in the beginning of the current season that Zverev was the best among those in their age group. “He won three (ATP) Masters (1000 titles) when none of us were even close to doing this. The positions have changed a little bit, so I think I can contest him now,” he said of the Hamburg native.
And Medvedev did just that. He took it to Zverev, from start to finish.
When they last met 14 months ago at the Rogers Cup in Toronto in 2018, Medvedev was a qualifier ranked 68th. Now, he’s ranked No. 4 in the world, and since the end of Wimbledon, Medvedev has been playing invincibly. Only the fifth player to ever play in six consecutive tour finals, Medvedev came out Sunday ready to win – and by doing so, he garnered his seventh career title and third since August (Cincinnati, St. Petersburg, Shanghai). The Russian hit 19 winners against just 14 unforced errors and dominated Zverev throughout the final, outpointing his opponent 62-43. It was his third straight win over a Top 12 opponent in three days.
Playing with his usual aggressive demeanor, Medvedev jumped out to a quick 3-0 as he broke a tepid Zverev in the German’s first service game, sandwiched in between a couple of impressive holds. Throughout the 43-minute opening set, Medvedev’s tall, 6-foot-6 (1.97m) frame enabled him to reach a lot of balls that might have gone for winners for Zverev against other opponents. He erased three break points during the fifth game before Zverev converted a fifth break point at the end of a lengthy 10-point game to get back on serve. It would be the only time that Zverev would break his opponent. Then, after a forehand winner put him ahead at 5-4, Medvedev gained a set point as a rattled Zverev double-faulted at 30-all, and was gifted the first set 6-4 on an uncharacteristic second double fault by the German that hit the net cord and bounced out of bounds.
Medvedev, who came into the final a day after eliminating sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6 (5), 7-5 in the semifinal round – and having won his past 16 sets since losing the fifth set against Rafael Nadal in last month’s US Open final – gained an early break point in the second game of the second set after another double fault by Zverev. He converted it when Zverev netted an easy forehand return. The last set Medvedev lost in a best-of-three match came against Novak Djokovic back in the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on August 17. But after the first hour, up a set and a break, there was no holding back for the Russian as he kept Zverev on the defensive, challenging him with nearly every forehand and backhand return. The German attempted to shorten the points by coming forward, but it was to no avail.
Medvedev took a commanding 3-0 lead in the final set after Zverev netted a doable forehand at 40-30 and continued to pressure his opponent with every opportunity. He went ahead a double break by capping a 14-shot rally with a perfect, cross-court backhand passing shot to push the envelope at 4-0. With an easy hold, Medvedev made it 5-0 after Zverev netted a backhand return, one of his 20 unforced errors. Finally, after Zverev saved a bagel set with a hold at 30, Medvedev confidently – and quickly – served out his Masters 1000 victory and sealed the championship with his fourth ace. The win improved his 2019 win-loss record to 59-17 and it was the fourth time Medvedev has lifted an ATP Tour Trophy without losing a set in a main draw.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) October 13, 2019
Before and during the trophy ceremony, Zverev gave due props to Medvedev, while also acknowledging that he’s turned a corner himself after suffering through some disappointing weeks earlier in the season. After advancing to the final with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over 11th seed Matteo Berrettini following his upset of third seed Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, the World No. 6 Zverev said of Medvedev: “He’s different this year than he was the previous years … and he’s been playing some unbelievable tennis. In the past few months, he’s probably the best player in the world, making it to six finals in a row, winning an (ATP) Masters (1000 title), making it to the US Open final. He’s definitely been playing the best tennis of his life.”
Said Medvedev: “This one is also amazing because Shanghai I think is one of the most prestigious Masters (1000 tournaments) on the Tour. Especially in the past 10 years, there were only three players who managed to win this one, so it’s really special to have my photo in the corridor over the next many years.”
Pavic and Soares win Shanghai doubles title
Mate Pavic of Croatia and Bruno Soares from Brazil, who were competing in just their eighth event as a team, won the Rolex Shanghai Masters doubles title over second seeds Lukasz Kubot from Poland and Marcelo Melo of Brazil, 6-4, 6-2, in 69 minutes. It was their first title together. The eighth seeds did not drop a set all tournament while the loss snapped the defending champions’ eight-match win streak in Shanghai.
Pavic and Soares improved to 12-7 as a team since forming in June, while Kubot and Melo, who competed in their 200th tour-level match as a pair (140-60), were attempting to become the first team to win back-to-back Shanghai titles.
Pavic and Soares will split 1000 ATP Doubles ranking points and share $408,840 in prize money. Kubot and Melo receive 600 points and will divide $199,520.
By the numbers
• With his Shanghai title, Daniil Medvedev joined Alexander Zverev as only the second player outside the Big Four (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray) to win multiple Masters 1000 trophies in a single season since David Nalbandian in 2007. Medvedev is the second Russian to win the Shanghai Masters 1000 tournament after Nikolay Davydenko, who triumphed at the inaugural Shanghai event in 2009.
• This was the first ATP Masters 1000 final where both players were under the age of 24 since Paris 2009 when a then 22-year-old Novak Djokovic defeated then 23-year-old Gael Monfils.
• With the final two places up for grabs in next month’s Nitto ATP Finals, the defending champion Zverev is currently in seventh place in the ATP Race To London with 2,855 points, ahead of eighth-place Matteo Berrettini. (2,525 points). Already qualifying for London are: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
What they’re saying
Alexander Zverev on Daniil Medvedev: “He’s a different player now. You can’t compare. I feel like I’m playing well. I feel like I’m on a very good path again. But obviously I have to be on this path for a longer period of time, I think. But making the final of a Masters (1000) is huge for me right now, and I’m very happy about that.”