The final tournament of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) ended on Sunday in Turin, Italy with the victory of Serbian Novak Djokovic. Of the two Russians playing in the tournament, Andrey Rublev showed the best result, stopping at the semi-final stage, while former world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev lost all three matches of the group stage.
The drawing of lots placed Medvedev and Rublev in the “Red” group, which the experts immediately called the “group of death.” The Russians got the third number of the world ranking Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas and Serbian Novak Djokovic, who occupies the eighth line of the ATP classification only because, due to his unwillingness to disclose his vaccination status against coronavirus, he missed the Grand Slam tournaments in Australia and the USA, having lost a lot of rating points.
Medvedev and Rublev met each other on the second day of the final tournament of the year. Daniil is higher in the ranking, the score of personal meetings was 4-1 in his favor, therefore, on these grounds, he was considered the favorite. But already in the first set, Rublev showed that paper layouts are nothing. He was extremely close to taking the lead, but missed seven set-balls and allowed Medvedev to take the game. However, this did not affect Andrey's morale in any way: he confidently won the second set, and then the third one, finishing the match from the fifth match point with a score of 6:7 (7:9), 6:3, 7:6 (9:6). 7).
“I recalled our match in the quarter-finals of the US Open 2020,” Rublev later said. “Then I led the tie-break of the first game and gave it away, after which I just couldn’t play. I didn’t want something like this to happen now, I fought for every at the end I had cramps, the exchanges were crazy, I just thought – “one more, one more”.
Probably, the battle with Medvedev took away too much strength from Rublev, because in his next match Andrei could not oppose Djokovic and lost – 4:6, 1:6. However, the Serbian in this match was also good himself – at the post-match press conference, he admitted that he showed, perhaps, his best tennis for the whole year. Prior to the meeting with Rublev, Novak beat Tsitsipas and thus, after two matches, he secured a place in the semi-finals.
Medvedev played another “valid” match with Tsitsipas. The Russian lost in the first set, heroically played three match-balls in the second, and in the third he led with a score of 5:3 and served for the match. But here the turn of the exploits of the Greek has already come – he managed to resist and eventually won with a score of 6:3, 6:7 (11:13), 7:6 (7:1). “It's just terrible that I didn't manage to win, especially on such a fast surface,” Daniil later complained, for whom the sports intrigue of the final ATP tournament ended in the second match, since he lost his chances of reaching the semi-finals.
Nevertheless, in the duel with Djokovic, Medvedev had something to fight for. Money and prestige – or rather, prestige and money, because the opportunity to fight the great Novak can hardly be measured in numbers. And Daniil did not disappoint at least because he gave the Serb a great fight, losing in his third match in a row only in the tie-break of the final game – 3:6, 7:6 (7:5), 6:7 (2:7). “It was a fight with one of my main rivals, I really wanted to win,” Djokovic later admitted.
Medvedev, again, failed to win in a situation where he served for the match in the third set. “It's a disaster,” the Russian admitted. Daniil also admitted that he is not yet close to the Serb in terms of the scale of tennis achievements. “I won some important matches against him, but I'm still a long way from Novak and any other of the Big Three.
Medvedev assessed his season as not entirely successful. “After the Open Championship Australia, I, in general, did not achieve good results. He played well, but expected more from himself. But I am sure that in the future I have many victories ahead of me. I think now I will walk an upset day or two, but then I will rest and start preparing for the next season. “
The second semi-finalist of the final ATP championship from the “Red” group was determined in the match between Tsitsipas and Rublev. The Russian started the match unsuccessfully, losing the first set almost without a fight, but then seized the initiative and did not let the Greek raise his head, taking the lead with a score of 3:6, 6:3, 6:2. “I didn’t give up, I continued to fight. After I gave up a stupid game with 40: 0, I gave vent to my emotions, and then decided to fight. If you fight and give yourself one hundred percent, you will have chances. I took advantage of them and am happy to be in the semi-finals “, – admitted Rublev.In the “Green” group, meanwhile, events took place that quickly removed the intrigue as to who will become the first racket of the world at the end of the year. After Rafael Nadal lost his chances of reaching the semi-finals, Carlos Alcaraz became out of reach for his pursuers. The 19-year-old Spaniard who missed the final ATP tournament became the youngest first racket of the world at the end of the year in modern tennis history (since 1973). As for the semi-finalists, the Norwegian Christian Ruud and the American Taylor Fritz became them from the “Green” group. Nadal and Felix Auger-Aliassime from Canada stopped at the group stage.
It was Ruud who had to fight Rublev for reaching the final of the final tournament of the year. But the fight didn't work out. The Norwegian won in just 69 minutes with a score of 6:2, 6:4. However, 25-year-old Andrei, who reached the semi-finals for the first time at the final championship of the year, had nothing to be upset about – he overcame the “group of death”, already, in the opinion of many, having accomplished the impossible. “Of course, I will take away a lot of positive things. Everyone dreams of qualifying for this tournament, and I managed to do it,” Rublev emphasized. Fritz – 7:6 (7:5), 7:6 (8:6). Serb had to win one match to become the six-time champion of the final ATP tournament and catch up in this indicator with the Swiss Roger Federer. And he did it by defeating Ruud 7:5, 6:3.