Rivalries: Medvedev vs. Zverev

Pair will meet in third-round clash Thursday in Cincinnati
August 16, 2023
Daniil Medvedev leads Alexander Zverev 9-6 in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series.
Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
Daniil Medvedev leads Alexander Zverev 9-6 in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series. By ATP Staff

Standing at 6’6”, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev's attributes have helped them reach the top of the game. The pair crush serves and are good defenders, using their long levers to hang in points and turn the tables.

When facing off, Medvedev and Zverev have had tight clashes on Tour. Zverev won the first four matches of their rivalry, but Medvedev has since responded, winning eight of their past nine encounters to claim a 9-6 advantage in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series. They will meet again on Thursday with a quarter-final place at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on the line.

Ahead of their 16th encounter, looks at five of their past blockbusters, each decided late in the final set.

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Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters 2023, Third Round, Medvedev d. Zverev 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(7)
For the second straight time in the rivalry, Medvedev rallied from a set down to edge Zverev in a razor-tight finish. On this occasion, Medvedev saved two match points and twice denied his opponent's attempts to serve out the match on the Monte-Carlo clay.

Zverev served at 5-4 in both the second and third sets, but had to wait until 6/5 in the final-set tie-break for his first match point. His second match point came on serve at 7/6, when Medvedev edged a tension-filled rally, the third seed's solid play down the stretch ultimately proving the difference in the late-night marathon.

“That was a crazy match,” Medvedev said of the contest, which featured a combined 11 service breaks amidst peaks and valleys for both players.

“He served two times for the match, he probably should have done better, but that is also clay courts. I tried to watch a lot of tennis before playing this tournament, and one thing that I saw is you can come back at any moment. The serve doesn’t count as much, so as soon as someone gets a little bit tight, the match can turn around in one second. That’s what I managed to do.”

BNP Paribas Open 2023, Fourth Round, Medvedev d. Zverev 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-5
Medvedev extended his winning streak to 17 matches with victory in this Indian Wells odyssey. After losing a tight opening set, the eventual finalist rolled his right ankle but recovered to edge Zverev in a three-hour, 16-minute thriller.

After saving all 10 break points against him in the second set, Medvedev produced a stunning defensive smash in the tie-break and ultimately forced a decider. Zverev denied his first attempt at serving out the win at 5-4 in the third, but Medvedev made no mistake on his second opportunity.

The 27-year-old finished the match with 40 winners and tightened up his baseline game to soak up Zverev's power as the match wore on.

"When I twisted [my ankle], I thought I was going to stand up just fine," Medvedev said of the dramatic fall. "But then the pain started growing very fast, so I was like 'That is not a good sign.' I felt like I didn't break it but I felt that one of the ligaments was a little injured, so I thought I wasn't going to be able to play."

Nitto ATP Finals 2021, Round Robin, Medvedev d. Zverev 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-6(6)
In one of the matches of the 2021 season, Medvedev and Zverev went blow-to-blow for two hours and 35 minutes in group play in Turin, before Medvedev once again came out on top to earn his fifth straight win against the German.

Both came into the match holding a 1-0 round-robin record after Medvedev downed Hubert Hurkacz, while Zverev had led Matteo Berrettini by a set before the Italian was forced to retire due to injury.

The pair, who also met in the round-robin stage at the season finale in 2020, struck their groundstrokes fiercely with Medvedev successfully soaking up the German’s heavy-hitting. In a tense third-set tie-break, Medvedev found a deep return on his backhand to move 6/4 ahead, but Zverev stepped up to save both match points as Medvedev attempted to serve and volley. However, it only delayed the outcome, with Medvedev sealing victory on his third match point to reach the semi-finals.

“Definitely one of the matches to remember,” Medvedev said.

Zverev quickly gained revenge, however, snapping a five-match losing streak to defeat Medvedev 6-4, 6-4 in the championship match five days later to clinch his second Nitto ATP Finals crown.

ATP Cup 2021, SF, Medvedev d. Zverev 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
In just the first week of the 2021 season, Medvedev and Zverev met in Melbourne as they competed at the ATP Cup.

Medvedev had swept aside Diego Schwartzman and Kei Nishikori in his opening two matches of the year, while Zverev had downed Denis Shapovalov before he lost to Novak Djokovic in three sets.

Playing under the closed roof on Rod Laver Arena, Medvedev played patiently as he overcame a serving onslaught from Zverev by adjusting his return position, standing deeper behind the baseline to rally from a break down in the second set. In a tight decider, a double fault from Zverev gave Medvedev the late break at 6-5 and from there he secured victory, fending off five break points in his final service game to win.

“When it's against Sascha and you are 6-3, 3-2 break down, many times you're going to lose a match,” Medvedev said. “But I needed to keep my chances alive for the team first of all, for the country. I just tried to stay there, got a bit tight maybe. I just did my job and I'm really happy about it.”

Miami Open presented by Itau 2018, Second Round, Zverev d. Medvedev 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(5)
Miami was a special place for Zverev at the start of his career. It was the site of his first ATP Masters 1000 win in 2015 as well as his first Top 10 victory at the elite level in 2017 when he defeated top seed Stan Wawrinka en route to the quarter-finals.

In 2018, his second-round victory against Medvedev acted as a springboard for further success, with the German going on to reach the final (l. to Isner).

Taking a 2-0 Lexus ATP Head2Head series lead against Medvedev into the match, Zverev combined power with guile. The then-20-year-old fired 25 winners during the match and caused Medvedev trouble with his backhand slice. He forced Medvedev low and disrupted his rhythm to draw errors in the third-set tie-break, including a misfired forehand on match point.

"He's one of the best servers on Tour,” Zverev said. “On his serve, anything can happen. I was just happy to take my chances in the tie-break and capitalise at 6/5 to win the match."

Competing for the 200th time at tour-level, Zverev improved to 126-74 with his win.

View their Lexus ATP Head2Head series here.

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