ATP Finals 2019: Daniil Medvedev's path to the final
On the back of a career-best season which saw the Russian reach a maiden Grand Slam final (lost to Rafael Nadal at the US Open) and clinch a maiden Masters 1000 title (Cincinnati), Daniil Medvedev became the first Russian player in 9 years and third overall to qualify for the season-ending ATP Finals.
At the 2019 ATP Finals, Medvedev finds himself in a group containing 19-time Grand Slam and two-time runner-up Nadal, defending champion Sascha Zverev and fellow tournament debutant Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Medvedev is a combined 6-6 against his group-stage competitors, beating Tsitsipas in all 5 meetings, winning once against Zverev in five meetings and losing both of his matches against Nadal.
Since Washington DC, Medvedev has reached the tournament final in 6 consecutive tournaments out of 7 contested, picking up titles in Cincinnati, St. Petersburg and Shanghai. The 23-year-old leads the tour with most match wins (59), most hardcourt match wins (46), and most finals (9) in the season.
In the semifinals, Medvedev is slated to meet one of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem or Matteo Berrettini. The Russian is a combined 4-8 against the quartet but has beaten Djokovic in his last two meetings against the Serb.
Race for the top 3
Medvedev is assured of a top 5 finish but can rise to a career-high No. 3 if he goes undefeated through the tournament and takes the title. The Russian, who trails 3rd-ranked Federer by 485 points leading into the tournament, can also usurp the Swiss maestro from the top 3 under the following additional scenarios:
Scenario 1: If Federer fails to win any group stage match, and Medvedev wins all 3 of his
In 16 previous tournament appearances, Federer has endured two group-stage defeats only once (2008). In an extremely unlikely scenario of the Swiss failing to win a group-stage match, Medvedev can usurp Federer from the top 3 by winning all his three group matches.
This would give the Russian 600 points (3*200), enough to overhaul his 485-point deficit to the Swiss maestro.
Scenario 2: If Federer fails to win any group stage match, Medvedev wins 2/3 and makes the final
In this scenario, Medvedev would accrue 800 points (2*400 for 2 round-robin wins + 400 for a semifinal win) which would help the Russian overcome the 485-point deficit to Federer and ascend to a career-high World No. 3.
Scenario 3: If Federer fails to win any group stage match, Medvedev wins 1/3 and reaches the final
In this rare scenario of Medvedev qualifying for the semifinals after winning only one group-stage match, the Russian would earn a total of 600 points (200 for a round-robin win + 400 for a semifinal win), which would be enough to overtake Federer at No. 3 in the world rankings.
It is worth noting that only Kei Nishikori (2016) and David Nalbandian (2006) reached the last 4 after enduring two group-stage losses. Both men lost in the semifinals.
Scenario 4: If Federer wins a group stage match and doesn't make the final, Medvedev reaches the final with no more than one group-stage loss
In this scenario, Federer would earn 200 points for an overall lead of 685 points over Medvedev in the race for the No. 3 position. If the Swiss maestro fails to get out of the group or loses in the semifinals under these circumstances, Medvedev would take the No. 3 spot in the world rankings by making the final with one or no group-stage loss.
This would give Medvedev a total of either 1000 points (3*200 + 400) or 800 points (2*200 + 400). Both situations would suffice for Medvedev to dislodge Federer from No. 3.
Scenario 5: If Federer wins 2 group stage matches and doesn't make the final, Medvedev reaches the final with no more than 1 group-stage loss
This scenario would have Federer earning 400 points for his efforts, which would give the Swiss maestro an overall lead of 885 points over Medvedev.
Under the circumstances, if Federer fails to get out of his group or loses in the final, Medvedev would need to go 3/3 in group-stage play and make the final to earn 1000 points (3*200 + 400) to overcome the deficit and become the new World No. 3.
Scenario 6: If Federer wins all 3 group stage matches and doesn't make the final, Medvedev takes the title
With three group-stage wins, Federer would swell his lead at the No. 3 spot over Medvedev to 1085 points (485 + 3*200).
If the Swiss loses in the semis, Medvedev would then need to go all the way at the 2019 ATP Finals to ascend to No. 3. If the Russian loses twice in group-stage play and takes the title, he will earn 1100 points (200*1 + 400 + 500) for his efforts.
By losing once in the group-stage and taking the title, Medvedev would earn 1300 points (200*2 + 400 + 500) and by going undefeated, the 23-year-old Russian would earn 1500 points (200*3 + 400 + 500).
In all 3 scenarios, Medvedev would overhaul Federer's significant lead and take the No. 3 position.
It is to be noted here that, with one or two group-stage losses, Medvedev could run into Federer in the semis - in which case the last 4 match would become a direct shootout for the No. 3 ranking position.
Scenario 7: Both Federer and Medvedev reach the final with 3/3 group stage wins, Medvedev takes the title
If Federer wins all three group-matches en route to the final, the Swiss maestro would earn 1000 points (3*200 for 3 round robin wins + 400 for a semifinal win) for his efforts, for an overall lead of 1485 points.
This would leave Medvedev with no room for error. The Russian would then need to do likewise and beat Federer in the title match to earn the maximum 1500 points (3*300 for 3 round robin wins + 400 for a semifinal win + 500 for a final win) to narrowly cancel out Federer's significant lead and take the No. 3 ranking.
Race to remain in the top 4
While Medvedev may harbour upwardly mobile ambitions, he would also need to keep an eye on No. 5 Dominic Thiem who trails the Russian by 680 points. The following scenarios would see Medvedev end the season in the top 4:
Scenario 1: Medvedev goes 3/3 in group-stage play and reaches the final
The Russian would have an overall lead of 1680 points which would be an unassailable one for Thiem to overcome.
Scenario 2: Medvedev takes the title
This scenario would see Medvedev earn a minimum of 1100 points (200*1 + 400 + 500) for an overall lead of 1780 points over Thiem. That would be enough for Medvedev to end the season in the top-4.
Scenario 3: Thiem doesn't win a group-stage match
If Thiem fails to win a group-stage match, Medvedev is guaranteed to stay at No. 4.
Any other scenario where Thiem does not earn more than 680 points than Medvedev at the 2019 ATP Finals would see Medvedev stay at No. 4 at the very least.