Medvedev and Zverev hunting finals history

 - Alex Sharp

Final day in Turin. Defending champion vs Olympic champion. Go!

Relief for Alexander Zverev in Turin 2021© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Justifiably the majority of the 2021 narrative on the men’s side has been about Novak Djokovic.

27-1 in Grand Slams tells you the story for the Roland-Garros champion

However, over in Turin, there has been a reminder that Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev are inching closer to stealing away the world No.1’s crown.

Defending champion Medvedev, who dismissed Djokovic in the US Open final, has returned to the ATP Finals title showdown with four victories.

Over the net on Sunday night in Turin, Zverev. The towering German played an astonishing level to outmanoeuvre Djokovic to book his final ticket.

It’s only five days on from their enthralling 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-6(6) round robin tussle which fell in Medvedev’s favour, the Russian recalling his “hands were shaking” after the immense battle.

The duo have a tour-leading 58 match wins each this season, but all of that is out the window. It’s all about No.59. Reigning champion versus 2018 champion, world No.2 versus world No.3. What a prospect.

Daniil Medvedev and Casper Ruud at the net after their semifinal at the 2021 ATP Finals© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Medvedev motoring towards glory

All three of Medvedev’s group stages clashes were epics, but on Saturday night he ran debutant Casper Ruud ragged 6-4, 6-2 to extend his ATP Finals unbeaten run to nine matches.

The arrowed passing shots, the devious duels at the net, it seemed at stages the 25-year-old was toying with his opponent.

It was majestic and Medvedev could enjoy the Djokovic-Zverev bout with his feet up.

Daniil Medvedev qualifying for the final of the 2021 ATP Finals© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

“I think all the matches were a great level. Different opponents and different styles. I managed to win all the matches,” reflected Medvedev.

“When you are in the final you can’t complain, so I am just looking forward to tomorrow (Sunday) and hopefully I can have my best match.”

Medvedev has won his past five encounters with Zverev, stretching back to the German clinching an ATP Finals round robin win at the 2019 edition. Since then Medvedev gained 2020 revenge in the group stages as well as two wins at the Rolex Paris Masters.

There is a sense that Medvedev’s cunning play, awkward, spontaneous striking can derail Zverev momentum. Saying that, their brutal match on Tuesday proved it could come down to a handful of points. The world No.2 knows exactly what is on the table.

“Sascha, we just played few days ago. Tough to say anything special. Big serve, big shots,” said Medvedev with a succinct assessment.  “All-around player. Runs well. He hits well if he has a ball - an easy ball to play. Complete player. Knows how to do everything.”

Aexander Zverev 2021 ATP Finals in Turin© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Zverev to turn the tide?

Back when Zverev won the ATP Finals in 2018, the 24-year-old overturned a round-robin loss (vs Djokovic) to then bludgeon his serve to dismiss the same rival in the final.

That’s on the cards again in Turin. If his cannonball serve is landing, the German has every chance of blowing Medvedev off balance and more.

Zverev’s pulsating 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3 semi-final triumph over Djokovic was a real show. 14 aces and 70 per cent of points won on serve, he evaded trouble numerous times on his own delivery.

Nice hug between Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic at the 2021 ATP Finals© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

The Olympic gold medallist, with five titles to his name in 2021, was generating searing pace, absorbing power with consummate ease and displaying fabulous feel on his short game shots. There was a game at the start of the second set which encapsulated this and the world No.1 simply stopped and applauded the German three times.

A huge boost from beating the world No.1 again (like Tokyo 2020) and serving bombs, Zverev must at least inside be confident of outfoxing Medvedev.

On the outside the cards are close to his chest.

“I lost 8-6 in the third set in the group stages, so I’m just looking forward to the final as I think it will be a great one. Outside of the Slams and the Olympics, this is the biggest tournament in the world,” stated Zverev, 31-4 since his Tokyo triumph.

"It features the best eight players and is difficult to win. I'm looking forward to having another chance. He is one of the best players in the world right now, so it's going to be a difficult match no matter what."

This is the first time since 2005, with David Nalbandian (23) and Roger Federer (24), that neither finalist is over 25-years-old.

So, this could be a Grand Slam final line-up for many years to come. With Djokovic off the scene, who can lay down their marker in Turin?