Tsitsipas Win Over Medvedev Was A Turin Thriller

Stefanos Tsitsipas (photo: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour)

TURIN/WASHINGTON, November 17, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev put on a lengthy and highly-entertaining display of tennis at the Nitto ATP Finals Wednesday night in Turin, Italy, that was at times skillful and other times topsy-turvy. It was also filled with plenty of drama.

So, it seemed only fitting in this round-robin match – their 11th lifetime meeting – that would give a lifeline to the winner and eliminate the loser from advancing, it would be decided by a decisive tiebreaker.

The second-seeded Tsitsipas came to play and executed a brilliant serve-and-volley game plan to beat No. 4 seed Medvedev, 6-3, 6-7 (11), 7-6 (1). Expect the unexpected – and that’s what happened when these two Top-10 foes faced off at the Pala Alpitour before another packed house.

Consider this: World No. 3 Tsitsipas squandered three match points during a 24-point, second-set tie-break, then regained his footing after trailing 3-5 in the final set against Medvedev. After winning the two-hour, 21-minute thriller on his fifth match point opportunity, the Greek star improved to 4-7 in his head-to-head series against the World No. 5 from Russia. Just as important, he’s 19-7 in deciding sets this season.

“It was twisty and it was turny,” Tennis Channel analyst Jim Courier said in his commentary of the bizarre group-stage match. “In the end, it was Tsitsipas, who levels his ledger. One win against one loss and still going here. It was a big one – two in a row against Medvedev coming off a win in Cincinnati as well. [I] loved the tactics from him, coming into the net.”

Indeed, Tsitsipas came forward, moving inside the baseline often to take advantage of Medvedev’s choice of playing deep. As a result, Tsitsipas was able to finish off points at will at the net, winning them at an 80-percent clip (36 of 45). He also forced Medvedev into committing many errors with his heavy ground strokes coming from both his forehand and backhand wings.

By the end, the big-hitting Medvedev had committed 28 unforced errors that overshadowed his 16 aces and 34 winners. Meanwhile, Tsitsipas struck 47 winners and made 25 unforced errors. His serve was broken just once while he converted two of three break-point chances. Tsitsipas outpointed Medvedev 106-98. The loss eliminated the 2020 champion Medvedev, who is 0-2 this week.

“It was very tiring out there,” said Tsitsipas, during his on-court interview. He is now 3-0 in third-set tie-breaks at the Nitto ATP Finals. “I’m so glad I overcame this and I was able to enjoy it with the crowd. It’s a great win and I’m extremely proud of the way I thought. It never seemed to kind of be ending for me. Even on the last game when he was serving, I still felt if I was able to put a few balls in, some opportunity might present [itself], and it did.

“It was great to get back into the match, I felt reborn, and what a great way to end it.”

Tsitsipas (1-1), who is vying to becoming the 11th player to win the Nitto ATP Finals more than once after winning the year-end title in 2019, kept his hopes of reaching the semifinal stage alive after recording his Tour-leading 61st triumph of 2022. On Friday, the 24-year-old Greek will play No. 6 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia (also 1-1) in a winner-take-all tussle to join No. 7 seed Novak Djokovic (2-0) coming out of the Red Group. Meanwhile, Djokovic will close out round-robin play against Medvedev.

Kyrgios and Kokkinakis remain hopeful after comeback victory

Australian Open champions Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis pulled off an amazing comeback during their Green Group match against Ivan Dodig of Croatia and American Austin Krajicek Wednesday evening.

Down 1-5 in the match tie-break after pulling even by winning the second set, the Special Ks from Australia went to work, gained momentum, and point by point rallied – feeding off the frenzy of the raucous Pala Alpitour crowd – to win the entertaining and energetic contest. Kyrgios closed out the improbable 3-6, 6-4, 10-6 victory with his team’s 10th service ace, which zoomed past both Dodig and Kracijek.

“I was thinking to myself, ‘If we lose today, we [would be] out of the whole event, so I am going to go out and there and do what I can do’,” Kyrgios said during his team’s post-match press conference. “We are the pair that is able to do that pretty much every time we play, so why don’t we use that to our advantage. The crowd was amazing and they got us over the line.”

The No. 8 seeds Kyrgios and Kokkinakis won nine of the final 10 points during the 81-minute match. The victory improved their win-loss record this season to 20-9.

“It is a good energy and it lifted me,” Kokkinakis added. “I started playing my best tennis after [Kyrgios] lifted [the crowd]. That is how we found it in Australia. … So we loved it.”

Next, the Special Ks (1-1) will close out group play on Friday against Croatian pair Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (2-0), who have already qualified for Saturday’s semifinal round.

Wednesday’s Nitto ATP Finals results

Thursday’s Nitto ATP Finals order of play

By the numbers

With his straight-set victory over Andrey Rublev on Wednesday, Novak Djokovic now has 32 career victories without losing a set at the Nitto ATP Finals, eclipsing Ivan Lendl’s 31. Only Roger Federer has more with 40.

“Quotable …”

“I think it is probably the first match that both my daughter and son, and of course my wife, have watched the entire match from the first to the last minute. We played for just over an hour. It is so great to have them. For me, that is one of the biggest motivational factors that I have right now competing at the highest level. Having them courtside, watching and celebrating, hopefully with me.”

Novak Djokovic, during his on-court interview Wednesday commenting on what it meant to have his wife and children watching his victory over Andrey Rublev from courtside.