Preview: Zverev & Berrettini Battle Crucial In ATP Race To London
The future is now at the Rolex Shanghai Masters. Four of the most talented young stars in the sport have played inspired tennis this week to fill the semi-final lineup. Third seed Daniil Medvedev kicks off Saturday’s schedule against Stefanos Tsitsipas and fifth seed Alexander Zverev takes on No. 11 seed Matteo Berrettini.
Although Medvedev has a flawless 4-0 record against Tsitsipas in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, the #NextGenATP champion has taken a set in all of their previous matches. But Tsitsipas isn’t shy to admit that he’s struggled against the Russian’s style of play.
“He has a very weird game. It’s very sloppy, but a good sloppy. I don’t mean this in a bad way. He’s just very uncomfortable to play against,” Tsitsipas said in August. “He has this completely different way of playing, flat and low, without giving you much angle to work with. It can be very disturbing to play against him. He can make you miss without understanding why you missed.”
Although Medvedev’s style may be unorthodox, it’s clearly working. The Russian powered into the last four without dropping a set and is on track to reach his sixth consecutive ATP final. The 23-year-old’s staggering numbers this season including 57 match wins, more than any other player on Tour, and prevailing in 27 of his past 30 matches. He’s also riding a seven-match winning streak after taking the title last month in St. Petersburg (d. Coric) and has won his past 14 sets.
But despite his success, Medvedev said he doesn’t feel invincible. He’ll bring his typically workmanlike approach to Saturday's match with Tsitsipas and come prepared for a hard-fought battle.
”Stefanos, even though I won all of the matches, they were all really tight. He’s also improving every week,” Medvedev said. “He's still so young. He has two more years than me to improve, talking about age.”
Meanwhile. Tsitsipas looks to make one of his best weeks on Tour even more memorable. He enjoyed one of the best days of his career on Friday by fighting back for his first win over a current World No. 1 in Novak Djokovic, a match which he called “the best comeback I’ve ever had.” The 21-year-old then learned he’d qualified for his maiden appearance in the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, held from 10-17 November at The O2 in London.
Despite his record against Medvedev, he’ll take confidence from overcoming some of his most challenging opponents all week. Prior to beating Djokovic, Tsitsipas scored his first win over #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime and avenged a loss in Montreal to Pole Hubert Hurkacz. If he maintains his current level, he has the tools to score another breakthrough against Medvedev.
”[Medvedev] has a very different tennis from most of the players that I have been playing against this year. He's a very mental player,” Tsitsipas said. “Tomorrow is going to be a new challenge for me. I hope I feel well. I hope it's going to be a fresh, new Stefanos out on this court, showing his best tennis and playing smart and making him play out of his comfort zone.”
Zverev’s showdown with Berrettini has major implications on the remaining two qualification spots for London. With their performances this week, defending Nitto ATP Finals champion Zverev moved to seventh place (2,615) and Berrettini (2,545) jumped to eighth place in the ATP Race to London. The winner of Saturday’s match will receive an additional 240 points.
The German's season of highs and lows is firmly on an upswing after he defeated Roger Federer in an epic quarter-final for his first Top 10 win of the year. Zverev is a confidence player and at his best once he gets a few matches under his belt at an ATP Tour event. If he brings the same form he did against Federer, he’ll put himself in position to break the 1-1 tie in his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Berrettini.
Meanwhile, Berrettini is enjoying his own breakthrough week by reaching his first Masters 1000 semi-final. The hard-hitting Italian has routinely crunched forehand winners that exceed 150 kilometres per hour and consistently put his opponents on defence, racing into the semi-finals without dropping a set. If he can beat Zverev, the 23-year-old will make his debut in the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings on Monday.
The doubles semi-finals feature second seeds Lukasz Kubot/Marcelo Melo taking on sixth seeds Nicolas Mahut/Edouard Roger-Vasselin. Kubot/Melo’s quarter-final win on Friday clinched their spot in the Nitto ATP Finals. Eighth seeds Mate Pavic/Bruno Soares will meet Jamie Murray/Neal Skupski in the last match of the day.
SCHEDULE – SATURDAY 12 OCTOBER 2019
CENTRE COURT 1 start 1:30 pm
 Nicolas Mahut (FRA) / Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) vs  Lukasz Kubot (POL) / Marcelo Melo (BRA)
 Daniil Medvedev (RUS) vs  Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)
Not Before 6:30 pm
 Alexander Zverev (GER) vs  Matteo Berrettini (ITA)
 Mate Pavic (CRO) / Bruno Soares (BRA) vs Jamie Murray (GBR) / Neal Skupski (GBR)