Daniil Medvedev became the first man to qualify for the semi-finals this year in Turin with his Wednesday win against Alexander Zverev. The third seed has won all four sets he’s played at the Nitto ATP Finals in building a 2-0 group-stage record, and he’s eager to build on that success when he meets Carlos Alcaraz on Friday.
“I’m going to try my best to play Carlos,” Medvedev said, acknowledging the fact that his progress to the knockout rounds is already sealed. “The moment you relax and say to yourself, ‘Maybe this match I can go easier,’ you can lose all the rhythm. That’s how tennis is.”
Medvedev saw first-hand the value of maintaining winning momentum in his Turin meeting with Novak Djokovic last year. The Serbian was 2-0 entering that matchup and already through to the semis, just like Medvedev is now. But Djokovic did not give an inch in a three-set battle, ultimately winning a final-set tie-break before claiming his record-tying sixth Nitto ATP Finals crown two matches later.
“Novak last year against me, [it was] physically a very tough match.,” Medvedev said. “He could have said at one moment, ‘Whatever, I lose the match, I’m still first place.’ But he didn’t. I think it’s a great example for me to try to do just my best on Friday and try to win.”
While the result will not affect Medvedev’s progress to the semi-finals, it will be crucial for the fate of both Alcaraz and Zverev. Both players enter the final round of group play at 1-1, with Zverev set to meet Andrey Rublev to close his group campaign.
“On Friday, I’ll be the No. 1 Daniil Medvedev fan there is on the planet — for a change,” Zverev said with a smile, after a fifth defeat in six Lexus ATP Head2Head meetings with Medvedev this season.
Asked about Zverev’s comments, Medvedev understood his rival’s sentiment.
“That’s normal. He wants to go through,” he said. “For sure, if I beat Carlos, it’s going to be the best for him. So it’s normal. I would be the same. I can see him looking the match. If I miss going, ‘No, why did he miss!’ Same if I win points.”
So what will it take to secure the result both he and Zverev crave?
“I think against [Alcaraz] — especially the way he played today, better than two days ago — you have to be at your best,” Medvedev said, echoing comments he made before beating the Spaniard in the US Open semi-finals. “You have to serve well. Here [on the fast court], there is an opportunity… You can serve aces against him like Sascha did. So I need to play fast. I need to make winners before he does it.
“Today he was [playing] pretty well. It’s going to be a good continuation of a test. I beat two good opponents and I have another one in two days. I’m going to try to do my best.”