After slumping to a straight sets defeat with some shocking issues with his serve, Zverev still had occasional moments of jitters, but could rely on his serve to pull him out of trouble as he battled past the tenacious Argentine.
Just as in his opener, it was a quicker start from the new kid on the block who broke the German before the first change of ends. However, Zverev was a bit quicker off the mark to draw level, and would break Schwartzman twice in succession on his way to wrapping up the first set.
Zverev kept the pressure on, breaking Schwartzman early, but found himself pegged back as the familiar demons returned to his game. As he started to look a little lacklustre, Schwartzman tightened up on the errors that had plagued his first set, and broke Zverev for the set to level the match.
Experience made its mark as Zverev needed to be just steady enough to break twice to take his first win of the tournament. However, the final hurdle is challenge enough.
Zverev said, after the tournament: “I feel like I played a lot better. But I think this is also a process for me. I didn’t practice that much. After Paris I still had a little bit of an injury. I need to get used to it, and I hope that every match will be better. I hope on Friday will be even better, because that’s what I need against Novak.”
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With scenarios and computations looming, the scene was set for another thriller like the match between Dominic Thiem and Rafael Nadal, we were not disappointed.
Novak Djokovic has admitted that it has been hard to get out of the mindset of a no-fans environment, saying that at times in his previous match it had felt like a practice session (piped in applause not withstanding)!
From the start of the match, Daniil Medvedev’s wily approach of wanting to go toe-to-toe with Djokovic was beginning to wear the World No. 1 down. Reeling off four games in a row, Medvedev grabbed the first set.
When he made it seven games on the bounce as he built up a 3-0 lead at the start of the second set, it was clear to see that he was beginning to out-Djokovic the former champion.
Djokovic was trying to shorten points, throwing in the ill-fated drop-shots and his work rate to try and get points on the board was working overtime. At least having stopped the rot, he was able to make Medvedev to serve it out.
Closing out the win, Medvedev books his place in the semi-finals, leaving Djokovic to fight it out with Zverev for the other spot.
Djokovic said, after the match: “I cannot allow these things to happen when you’re playing one of the top players of the world. He was just better, no question about it. just not a great match from my side. I thought I could have and should have done better, but credit to him for playing on a high level.”
Medvedev said both on court and in his press conference that he felt that Djokovic was not playing at his best as he lost only his third completed tour-level match this year.
He said: “Playing against Big 3, even when they are not at their best, it’s tough to win. So you need to finish the match.”
Play continues on Day Five of the Nitto ATP Finals at 12pm (GMT).
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