It is the final weekend of a final week in a year without the usual structure on the ATP Tour. In this final weekend of the ATP Finals being held in London we have some normality with some usual faces in mens tennis in the semi-finals.
Usual faces but only one former champion, Novak Djokovic leads the line-up, Daniil Medvedev is in fine form and former finalists Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem are itching for this piece of silverware but who will progress to Sunday’s final?
Dominic Thiem vs Novak Djokovic
Fascinating match-up ahead of us on Saturday night. Djokovic leads the head to head 7-4 but it’s one of tennis’ most intriguing battles.
Djokovic won the first five meetings between 2014 and 2017 dropping just one set of tennis and winning eleven. Since then it has been more difficult. Roland Garros in 2017 was the first win for Thiem in straight sets.
He went onto win in big matches in Monte-Carlo, London and Paris winning four of their last six meetings. In these though Djokovic has won two big ones in Madrid and the most in Melbourne.
The Australian Open final was epic, it had everything and from two sets to one up and a break of serve in the fourth it fell apart for Thiem but he recovered and won in New York in stupendous style.
Who is favourite? Got to be Dominic Thiem. I think he has been phenomenal this year, my only concern is the defeat to Rublev. Ok, he already topped the group and qualified so was a dead rubber but to have lost that intensity could be a problem.
Losing in tennis is never good in this big events but for Djokovic to come into the semi-finals off a big win is better than having your momentum broken like Thiem had. He took his foot off the gas and lets be honest he did his very best to be broken at 5-5 the other day instead of potentially going to a third set.
The issue for Djokovic will be I think that we haven’t yet seen his best tennis, he’s played well but I haven’t been blown away yet. I wouldn’t say since lockdown there has been that rhythm to create this level of high consistency due to various reasons.
Rafael Nadal vs Daniil Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev has never beaten Rafael Nadal but he has given it a good old go. Their first meeting just over twelve months ago was one to forget losing 3-6 0-6 to the Spaniard but a few weeks later gave Nadal a lot to worry about.
Nadal was up two sets to love in the US Open final but Daniil was not done there as against the odds he took a third set and forced a fifth losing 6-4 in the fifth and final set but showed his intent.
A first win looked likely here in London last year but as we know things unravelled for Daniil who led Nadal from 5-1 up and match point in the third set and lost.
It’s been a bit bitter sweet watching the tennis in London this week having meant to be have been there but to see Daniil go from 0-3 last year to winning all three round robin matches this year has been marvellous.
He for me is the favourite to win this match. No one has played better than him and he has the arrogance on the baseline to be able to camp and play well. If he gets his return into play on Rafa’s serve and not into the forehand he has a big chance here.
Rafa will have to paint the lines and look to come to the net, he cannot get stuck in baseline rallies. Medvedev covers the court soo well and his shot consistency is exceptional and I would like to see him lift this title on Sunday!