Novak Djokovic won a gruelling three set duel with rising Russian star Daniil Medvedev and dragged Serbia into the inaugural ATP Cup final.
Djokovic had unfinished business against Medvedev.
While the Serbian superstar had a 3-2 head-to-head record before this match against the rising Russian talent, Medvedev walked away from their last two matches with the win.
First on the clay of Monte Carlo, then on the same Cincinatti hardcourt where Nick Kyrgios lost his cool with an umpire.
The world No.2 had a point to prove. That was clear in the first set. Djokovic thumped Medvedev 6-1. In a flash, Serbia had one foot in the inaugural ATP Cup final.
The second set was a different story. Djokovic broke the Russian star in the first game of the set but Medvedev didn’t roll over.
He broke back, held serve and then he broke the world No.2 again.
That didn’t sit well with the Serbian superstar. He smashed his racquet after sending a decisive cross-court forehand wide.
Medvedev had the set won then and there. Not that Djokovic made it easy.
He broke the Russian to bring the set back on serve but Medvedev lifted to break Djokovic for the third time, claiming the set 7-5. A decider was what the match deserved and it didn’t disappoint.
The backcourt slug-fest continued and it took one of the points of the match from Djokovic to finally extract the winning break from Medvedev.
Djokovic then staved off three break points in his final service game to book Serbia’s ticket to the ATP Cup final on Sunday night.
“It was exciting, exhausting, joyful, dreadful, all at once,” Djokovic said when asked about the contest, post-match.
“At one point I think we both refused to miss from the baseline so there were a lot of rallies. It was exhausting.
“It was a very physical battle but also a mental battle.”
The contest validated Medvedev’s end to the 2019 season, where he made the US Open final on his way to a new career high ranking at No.5.