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Nitto ATP Finals 2020: Rafael Nadal vs Daniil Medvedev semifinal preview, head-to-head & prediction

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal
Rudra Biswas
ANALYST
Modified 21 Nov 2020, 17:46 IST
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Match details

Fixture: (2) Rafael Nadal vs (4) Daniil Medvedev

Date: 21 November 2020

Tournament: Nitto ATP Finals 2020

Round: Semifinals

Venue: London, United Kingdom

Category: ATP Finals

Surface: Indoor hardcourt

Prize money: $5,700,000

Match timing: Not before 8 pm GMT, 1.30 am IST

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Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | India - Sony / Sony Liv

Rafael Nadal vs Daniil Medvedev preview

Rafael Nadal serves at the 2020 ATP Finals
Rafael Nadal serves at the 2020 ATP Finals

Rafael Nadal will be looking to make his third career final appearance at the season-ending tournament in London, as he faces the in-form Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals on Saturday.

It was a must-win face-off between Nadal and the defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday, and the Spaniard was largely spotless lead up to 4-5 in the second set. In fact, Nadal had lost only eight points on his serve until then.

However, he would become jittery as he served to stay in the set. Tsitsipas on his part started hitting with more conviction too, which prompted the World No. 2 into double-faulting on set point and pushing the match to a third set.

The service games of both players became more laborious in the decider; there were three consecutive breaks at the start. But Nadal eventually regained his rhythm on serve and broke Tsitsipas one more time, before closing the match on his serve.

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The World No. 2's next match is a sequel to his thrilling showdown with Daniil Medvedev at the 2019 ATP Finals. Nadal saved a match point and recovered from 1-5 down in the third set of that group stage clash, ultimately beating the Russian 6-7, 6-3, 7-6.

Medvedev, however, is looking in much better shape right now than he was at this time last year. The lanky Russian has been in scintillating form during his campaign in London, which he started by brushing aside Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4 in his opener.

But Medvedev saved his best for his match against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. He took the Serb apart from the baseline and dominated on his serve, dropping just six games to seal his place in the semis.

While Medvedev has suffered a few stumbles since his breakout US Open campaign in 2019, he has looked very strong mentally at London. His newfound composure and efficient serve will hold him in good stead the rest of the tournament.

Rafael Nadal vs Daniil Medvedev head-to-head

Rafael Nadal shakes hands with Daniil Medvedev after winning the 2019 US Open
Rafael Nadal shakes hands with Daniil Medvedev after winning the 2019 US Open

This will be the fourth meeting between Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev, with the Spaniard currently leading the head-to-head 3-0.

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The pair first met in the final of the 2019 Rogers Cup, where Nadal won in straight sets. Medvedev then stood in Nadal's way in the championship match at the US Open a few weeks later, where Nadal triumphed in a five-set thriller.

Rafael Nadal vs Daniil Medvedev prediction

Daniil Medvedev plays a backhand
Daniil Medvedev plays a backhand

Rafael Nadal has tried a few new things at London this week, mixing up his play more often and approaching the net at the smallest opportunity. At the same time, he has been solid from the back of the court too; Nadal won 40% of his return points against Tsitsipas while hitting just 13 unforced errors.

But Nadal's numbers on return likely won't be as impressive against Daniil Medvedev, as the Russian has been racking up a lot of free points on his first serve. The World No. 4 has also shown improvement on his forehand, and has been able to finish points more efficiently with it of late.

Medvedev's defense was already terrific, and that combined with his flat hitting can be even more effective in indoor conditions. If Nadal doesn't take the initiative in the baseline rallies right from the start, he might find himself caught in the cobwebs of the Russian's tricky, unorthodox game.

Prediction: Daniil Medvedev to win in three sets.

Published 20 Nov 2020, 11:35 IST
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