It is all to play for on Friday as Rafael Nadal must win his final group match to advance to the semi-finals at the ATP Finals. With his No.1 spot guaranteed following Djokovic’s exit on Thursday, the Spaniard should play with much more freedom in his final rubber with Stefanos Tsitsipas. Tsitsipas is already through while Nadal can advance if he wins and Daniil Medvedev beats Alexander Zverev in the other match on Friday.
Tsitsipas has been a surprising star of the tournament so far, going 2-0 with wins over Daniil Medvedev and now Alexander Zverev in straight sets. The Greek continued his strong serving with another good performance, hitting 8 aces and dropping 5 points on first serve. The much needed addition of aggression has worked well for him so far this week with neither opponent able to keep up. “It’s really good to know that I’ll be playing in the semi-finals, but I’ve got to concentrate, keep going the way I have been doing things the last couple of days,” Tsitsipas said. “I always find an extra motivation, an extra reason to play well against the top guys. I consider Sascha also being of this part of this elite group.”
Nadal was so close to being out the tournament but showed some of trademark fight to come back in an epic with Daniil Medvedev. The pair went all the way in the US Open final and this one was just as tight with Nadal eventually winning in a final set tiebreak, but not before saving match point and also being 0-4 down before winning. You can never count the Spaniard out and this result was just the latest in a long list of many proving as such. “Daniil is super tough mentally. He showed everybody during all this year what he achieved. If you are not able to be very solid mentally, it’s impossible, honestly,” Nadal said. “Today is one of these days that one time of 1,000 you lose this match, and it happened today. Very happy for that.
With the potential to remain unbeaten and to make a statement ahead of the semi finals, Tsitsipas won’t be letting up in this one despite being through.“I’m going to give it my all. I’m going to try to give my soul, and I think it’s also a very good challenge for me in order to prepare for more difficult matches in the semi-finals and the finals, potentially. So this match is going to give me a lot. It’s going to educate me, and I’m going to try to get and absorb as much as I can from that.” he said. Nadal has not been at his best but with the pressure on him to deliver and go through, it’s hard to back against him in the key moments. He is 4-1 against Tsitsipas, including 2-0 on hard courts.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in three sets