Daniil Medvedev v Andrey Rublev: ATP Finals
Rolling report: Daniil Medvedev, the world No 3, has already defeated Andrey Rublev twice this season. Can he do it again? Join Daniel Harris for updates
Righto pals, that us done for tonight. Thanks all for your company, and do join us again tomorrow night for Novak Djokovic (1) v Jannik Sinner (4) – that should be an absolute jazzer, especially given the latter is from northern Italy. So see you then, but in the meantime, peace out.
It doesn’t get easier for Rublev, who meets Alcaraz next; Medvedev faces Zverev, and both of those matches should be a lot of fun.
Medvedev 6-4 6-2 Rublev In comms, they speculate that Rublev’s issue is a mixture of talent and temperament, but I’m not so sure: losing to a better player is what he’s finding hard to take – he looks tearful out there, poor man – and it’s that which has prompted him to mislay his noggin. When things were going reasonably, he was calm. Anyway, Medvedev makes 30-0 in short order, Rublev then goes long on the return and, facing three match points he again sends a return over the baseline. Medvedev played superbly tonight, and Rublev couldn’t quite come to terms with his style of play nor the mental toll it imposed.
Medvedev 6-4 5-2 Rublev* I totally understand Rublev’s anguish: he’s had the best season of his career by far, but seems to be learning he’s still a way off beating the best when it really counts. He holds here, though – to 30, so it’s no breeze – meaning Medvedev will shortly serve for the match.
*Medvedev 6-4 5-1 Rublev Er, I take a comfort break and return to find it’s 30-all … then Medvedev slams down and ace, a return goes long, and he’s a game away. Rublev is proper gutted with how this has gone since the business end of set one and I doubt it’s consoling because he wants to be as good as Medvedev is, but Medvedev has played properly.
Medvedev 6-4 4-1 Rublev* Better from Rublev, who gets to 40-15. But as I type, Medvedev, forced out wide, strokes a fantastic forehand return cross-court, then another fine forehand changes the temperature of the next rally and Rublev, exhausted after a lot of chasing, can only net. He daren’t give up another break and is brave in taking a backhand early, sending a winner spinning down the line – but that’s what he’s got to do to win a point, and when Medvedev lands a forehand on the chalk he can only net, bringing us to deuce. And from there, Rublev first nets, then, down advantage, he slips at the net having played another sub sub sub sub standard volley, the ball flies past into the empty court – he dives for it off the ground – and that’s the double break. I’m afraid this match is over.
*Medvedev 6-4 3-1 Rublev Rublev swipes a backhand wide and he’s not at all happy with his conduct, showing himself by how much he missed the target. Medvedev then races to 40-0, and though a coruscating backhand winner brings Rublev into the game, another booming serve quickly extinguishes it.
Medvedev 6-4 2-1 Rublev* Rublev makes 30-0 with a murderous forehand, but when he nets next point, he’s shouting at himself, and at 40-15, Mevedev finds a quite ludicrous angle from the forehand corner to force a winner cross-court. When we reach deuce, though, Rublev closes out in short order – but he’s having to fight really hard just to stop in this.
*Medvedev 6-4 2-0 Rublev At 15-all, Medvedev has the point at his mercy but, lost in the supermarket, he waves at a drop, sending it over the sideline with so much space at which to aim. So he smites a forehand to feel better, canes a backhand winner down the line for game point, then off balance and moving the wrong way, he manufactures a sensational backhand down the line and on the stretch for another winner that secures his consolidation! He’s playing very nicely here.
Medvedev 6-4 1-0 Rublev* Rublev will know that he had chances there, that he played pretty well to end up with nada, that if he’s not careful and calm, this match can run away from him. But when he swipes a backhand wide for 0-30, he’s in trouble, going for too much chasing a set that’s already over. And oh dear, a forehand sent wide leaves him in terrible trouble, three break-points down; he saves them all, then shanks a forehand and nets a backhand. He’ll do very well to rescue himself from here.
*Medvedev 6-4 Rublev An error from Medvedev, his second unforced of the match so far – pathetic – hands Rublev 0-15, then he goes wide on the forehand; pressure! Successive booming backhands are good enough for 15-30, but then a double presents two break-points, the refusal to take much of his second serve costing him on this occasion. But he makes 30-all, then a body-serve that’s too well-directed to return brings us to deuce … only for a long backhand to hand over another opportunity … snatched back with a third break-point ace. Rublev then goes long on the backhand, only for Medvedev to net, and the game has now been going over five minutes; it might prove pivotal to this match, because it’s hard to see the world number three losing from a set up. But facing yet another advantage, he can’t find an ace, responding instead with a service-winner – pathetic – before pausing to ask for a sixth ball only to find there was already one in play. And what work he then produces at the net, a pair of expert volleys from on top of the net raising a second chance to secure the set … and he looks about to, until Rublev suddenly changes the flow of the rally with a monstrous forehand, it facilitates a backhand to the corner, and what a volley he produces, a fair way from the net and below the level of it, to secure deuce. Both men are grunting away now, trying to alleviate stress with metronomic noises, and the rallies are getting longer, Medvedev standing strong to earn advantage, then tossing in a second double of the game! We’ve been going over 10 minutes now, but another service-winner raises another advantage and another forehand to the corner forces Rublev to go long in response. Medvedev takes the first set, and that feels about right: he’s just a little bit better, making huge serves at crucial moments and always seeming to have just that little bit more.
Medvedev 5-4 Rublev* Yeah, Rublev is losing focus, shouting towards the crowd in the process of going down 0-30. But another drive-volley half the arrears, seconds later it’s 40-30 … but a wrongfooting forehand lands just outside the sideline, bringing us to deuce. No matter: Rublev closes out from there, and Medvedev will have to serve for it.
*Medvedev 5-3 Rublev A thunderous return on to the tootsies earns Rublev 0-15, then he really works the next point, sending Medvedev to the corner before thrashing a forehand to the opposite one; that’s lovely. And though a service-winner follows, again Rublev dictates a point with his forehand before advancing to punish a drive-volley winner. If he could make those on a regular he’d be very serious, but in the meantime Medvedev makes deuce with a big serve and an ace. Rublev, though, might just be hitting a seam, his forehand dictating another rally before, having apparently done the work to hang in there, Medvedev nets just as the pressure releases. But he saves another break point, wins two more in short order, and a frustrated Rublev volleys fresh air deep into the stands. Thing is, that kind of emotion probably isn’t helpful; to address this situation, he needs to be chill.
Medvedev 4-3 Rublev* Medvedev looks so ungainly, but for a man that tall to move that well is a wonder of modern engineering; he hangs in a long, physical point for 15-all, Rublev losing patience and going for a winner that’s wide, just. Then, on 30-15, Rublev misses again – he has 10 unforced errors so far to Medvedev’s 0 – then faces yet another break point when a whipped forehand somehow breaks the sideline. And this time, the pressure tells, Rublev serve-volleying, a decent ruse that surprises Medvedev, whose hooked return falls nicely for the drive-volley … which is walloped wide! Medvedev breaks, and is by far the better player so far.
*Medvedev 3-3 Rublev Medvedev is finding it easier to hold at the moment and he races to 30-0 before directing Rubelv from side to side as he chills on the baseline then, when he’s ready, uncorks a forehand winner then secures the game.
Medvedev 2-3 Rublev* Medvedev’s lengths are always so good, and he makes 40-30 outhitting Rublev from the back. So Rublev coils and unleashes a monstrous serve out wide, on which Medvedev lands a racket, but with no power.
*Medvedev 2-2 Rublev Down 15-30, Rublev conjures a tremendous forehand down the line, measured at 140 km/h; it looks absolutely gorgeous. But from there, Medvedev closes out, sealing the game with his first ace. Already, this looks like another match likely to go all the way.
Medvedev 1-2 Rublev* Medvedev runs around his backhand to power an inside-out forehand into the corner then, when Rublev’s hands are heavy at the net, has plenty of time to run in and pick his spot down the line; a point later, it’s 0-40. Again, though, his forehand comes to the rescue, and he’s not spooked by his previous mishap at the net, coming in to hit a drive-volley; he wins the next two rallies too, bringing him and us to deuce. And from there, he quickly closes out, turning the power up yet further before Medvedev nets a volley that secures his hold. Great work, and this is boiling nicely.
*Medvedev 1-1 Rublev I wonder if tennis could wear one or two more invitational tournaments that give us the best against the best; snooker has the Champion of Champions and the Masters, for example. I also wonder if we could wear another major between Melbourne and Paris, except I feel we know where that’d go if ever it happened, so. Anyway, Medvedev makes 40-0, Rublev grousing to the umpire about somesuch, before a service-winner seals the game.
Medvedev 0-1 Rublev* (*denotes server) Rublev begins with a double, levelling the game with a forehand winner. The court’s playing quickly, which might help him, and when he nets, Medvedev is two points away from a break … so down comes ace that makes 30-all. However it’s Medvedev at the net at the end of a long rally, putting away a volley; Rublev saves himself with some colossal forehands and we’re at deuce. Not for long: further violent forehands see him close out, and though that was a difficult holdl he’ll feel he’s in the match.
We’re ready to go, Rublev to serve, and … play.
These two have played in this tournament before, Rublev winning 7-6 in the third; Medvedev also lost to Tsitsipas and Djokovic in a third-set breaker.
Here come our players…
Greg Rusedski thinks Rublev’s lack of net hands might hurt him tonight, because Medvedev will be hitting drops. Rublev, meanwhile, says playing his best mate is like dying slowly, when you know it’s happening but you can’t stop it; he also, though, says he’s playing much better now than when he won in Monte Carlo.
Coach Calv returns: “It’s not that interesting a match tbh. They’re big mates, both play similarly. Always find this stat interesting, and no coincidence that the bottom four are the four worst volleyers:
So how’s this match going to go? Well Medvedev is just so solid on serve and makes so few errors that the starting point has to be he wins. But if Rublev, who’s running forehand is a terrific shot, can keep him moving, he’s a good chance, and I’d exoect to see a fair few drops given how far back his opponent likes to stand. Medvedev, meanwhile, will want long points, and will hit deep and flat, offering little to go at.
Earlier today and also in this group, Alexander Zverev came back from a set down to beat Carlos Alcaraz. “Alcaraz isn’t great on the indoor,” says Coach Calvin Betton. “And Zverev has beat him before. If he serves well it’s tough to beat him on a quick surface.”
He’s put the cat among this pigeons, that’s for sure – he’ll be hard to stop from making the semis now
This is lovely.
Andrey Rublev is 26, and it’s getting to that time: time to do something proper. In saying that, I absolutely do not mean to denigrate what’s already a fine career, just that he’ll believe he has what it takes to win the big pots and will know that if it doesn’t happen soon, it probably won’t happen at all.
Of course, he’ll want a Slam, but he’d certainly accept an ATP Finals because his main issue is beating players ranked above him when it really matters. So far, he’s reached the last eight of every major, but never better.
However, this last year has been a good one for him, bringing him his first Masters title and Wimbledon quarter. Which is to say he’s on the right track, he just needs to put it all together.
But when your opponent is Daniil Maedvedev, that’s easier said than done. It may be that Rublev’s forehand is the best shot either man has, but Medvedev’s consistency in getting balls back into court, along with his massive serve, means that even on a bad day, he’s still pretty damn good. Which is to say I’ve not a clue how this is going to go; lovely stuff.
Play: 9pm local, 8pm GMT