Medvedev Makes Maiden Masters 1000 Final In Montreal
If there’s one thing Daniil Medvedev has not done this week in Montreal, it’s waste time. The World No. 9 moved past countryman Karen Khachanov 6-1, 7-6(6) on Saturday at the Coupe Rogers, advancing to his first ATP Masters 1000 final without dropping a set.
Despite letting slip a break advantage on two occasions in the second set, including at 5-4 as he tried to serve out the match, Medvedev held his nerve in the tie-break to triumph after one hour and 23 minutes. His victory in the first Masters 1000 semi-final between two Russians will also make Medvedev the top-ranked player from his country on Monday, and he will play for the title against top seed Rafael Nadal.
"I'm playing very well right now. I believe if I am able to play like this, it's not going to be easy for Rafa," Medvedev said. "It's going to be a big battle. I'm hoping that I can pull it out."
One year ago, Medvedev was only No. 68 in the ATP Rankings, and he needed to qualify in Toronto. But now the Russian is not only inside the Top 10, but he is pressing his claims for a maiden spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November.
Medvedev will finish the week in sixth place in the ATP Race To London. He has made four additional finals this year, including in Sofia where he captured the ATP 250 title.
For much of the match, Medvedev dominated his service games with his first serves to avoid much pressure from his compatriot, while forcing Khachanov to come up with something special on his serve with dogged defence. The victor won all but four of his first-serve points (33/37), whereas Khachanov managed to earn just 59 per cent of points on his first delivery.
"I absolutely did not think about the times when we were young. But it is, of course, a very special match. Before the match, I hadn't thought about that, but I quickly understood it was going to be the match for me to become the top one in Russia," Medvedev said. "So it was a big match. Both of us, we don't like to play each other, so we were tense."
Khachanov double faulted away both of the breaks he conceded in the first set. And at 1-1 in the second set, Medvedev was once again unrelenting, acting like a brick wall a few feet behind the baseline, putting ball after ball deep in the court until Khachanov pushed a forehand into the net to give the eighth seed a set-and-a-break lead.
In the next game, Medvedev hit a stunning tweener before working his way to the net to finish off the point, taking a 40/15 lead, motioning for the crowd’s support for his tremendous play. And suddenly, his level dropped off for the first time in the match, giving the break back to Khachanov. After bouncing back to break for the second time in the set, Medvedev's nerves showed once again as he failed to serve out the match at 5-4.
Khachanov pushed to force a decider, winning four points in a row in the tie-break from 0/2 down. But Medvedev did not go away, clinching the match when one of his backhands bounced off the tape and trickled just over the net, not leaving enough time for Khachanov to get there.
This was just Medvedev's second Masters 1000 semi-final. Earlier in the year, he was upset by Serbian Dusan Lajovic in the last four of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. This time, he faced a more experienced opponent in Khachanov, who defeated four Top 10 opponents en route to the Rolex Paris Masters title last year. But too often, Khachanov's powerful arsenal was not enough to break through Medvedev's fortress in rallies.
Medvedev's opponent in the final, Nadal, advanced after Frenchman Gael Monfils withdrew due to an ankle sprain. The Russian has never played the legendary lefty.
"Of course it's extra special. I played Novak and Roger a few times, both of them already. It's different, I have to say. Yeah, there is some extra pressure. At the same time it's fun to play them because, well, that's what I have been working for all my life," Medvedev said. "I won't be intimidated. I want to win every match I play... hopefully I can do it tomorrow."
Did You Know?
Medvedev, who hails from Moscow, has felt at home this week in Montreal. The World No. 9 speaks French, and he has done various interviews and interactions in the language throughout the week.