London, 14 November 2019 (dpa/MIA) – Rafael Nadal produced a remarkable turnaround victory as he saved a match point at 1-5 in the third set before beating Russia’s Daniil Medvedev 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) on Wednesday at London’s ATP Finals.
Meanwhile, Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas qualified for the semi-finals at the O2 Arena with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Germany’s defending champion Alexander Zverev.
The 21-year-old, who is appearing at the finals for the first time, rallied to break Zverev at 4-3 before successfully serving out the first set.
Tsitsipas broke serve twice in the second set and secured his place in the final four with Austria’s Dominic Thiem after he completed his triumph with an ace in 73 minutes.
I’m really surprised by my performance tonight, I did everything right,” said Tsitsipas.
“Once again, I’m just playing my game and my mind is clear when I’m on the court. I’ve been mixing my game a lot and try to be unpredictable so that helps me a lot.”
Zverev must now beat Medvedev and hope Nadal loses to Tsitsipas in order to continue the defence of his title in the semi-finals.
Earlier, the 23-year-old Medvedev missed a break point at 3-3 in the first set against Nadal but eventually took the lead by winning four straight points in the first tiebreak.
Nadal, who beat Medvedev to lift his 19th grand slam title at the 2019 US Open in their last meeting, broke serve twice in the second set to level the match.
In the final set, Medvedev dominated the early exchanges to lead 4-0, but he couldn’t convert a match point at 5-1 or serve out the contest as Nadal retaliated with two breaks before forcing a sudden death decider.
“In that moment, what you think is probably in five minutes you are in the locker room, because that’s the more normal thing,” said Nadal.
“I played a great point, and then I was able to save that game. Even with 5-2 is so difficult to think about comeback against a player like Daniil. I created that pressure on him. I think I played a good tiebreak later, too.”
Medvedev caved under pressure with a wide forehand to give Nadal a pair of match points at 6-4.
Upon review of another Medvedev miss on the left side, Nadal’s challenge was successful and he prevailed after an exhilarating effort in 2 hours 44 minutes.
“(To) win this match is a combination of a lot of things: lucky, some mistakes of Daniil, some good moments of myself at the end,” said Nadal, who had arrived in London hoping an abdominal injury would recover.
“Knowing that I was not able to practice the way, be able to increase the level since two days ago to today like this is a very positive thing and I’m very happy with this.”
In the third set battle between Medvedev and Nadal, it looked all over for the 33-year-old Nadal, when the world number four Russian surged 4-0 ahead.
Medvedev said earlier in the week that he had struggled with physical and mental issues after a run of six straight tournament finals, in which he claimed Masters honours in Cincinnati and Shanghai.
It showed when he rallied to the first match point at 5-1, that Nadal erased with a clever drop shot to make Medvedev stumble.
“Rafa (Nadal) fighted his best,” said Medvedev.
“He could just say, okay, it’s over at 5-1 and just give me the point, but we all know Rafa is not about this.”
Medvedev failed to serve out the match twice at 5-2 and 5-4 as he crumbled to a match total of 40 unforced errors that ultimately handed Nadal victory in the sudden death decider.
On Nadal’s match point at 6-4, Medvedev released a backhand that sailed wide to the left and even though, it was originally called in, Nadal raised his hand for a television review.
Before the decision was overturned, Nadal nodded to his opponent in acknowledgement that he had pulled off a lucky comeback.