Zverev stops Nadal to set up Medvedev final in Paris
Top seed Rafael Nadal’s bid for a maiden Paris Masters title was halted on Saturday when the Spaniard was beaten 6-4 7-5 in the semi-finals by German fourth seed Alexander Zverev.
Nadal, who reached the final at Bercy in 2007, was only briefly in contention as he surrendered his serve three times.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion broke back after falling 4-2 behind in the second set but it was a brief comeback as the 23-year-old Zverev stole his serve again in the 11th game.
He then served it out, prevailing on his second match point when Nadal’s forehand flew wide.
Zverev will look to claim his fourth Masters title against Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev, who qualified with a commanding 6-4 7-6(4) victory against Canadian Milos Raonic.
“I feel good. Look, I’m in the final of a Masters, so I’m quite happy about that. And I have just beaten Rafa,” said Zverev.
“So that is never easy to do. I think the whole world will agree with me on that, all the players will agree with me on that. It’s going to be a final against Daniil. Obviously two best players of the tournament are still left.”
Nadal said he was satisfied with his overall performance in Paris, although he rued his tactical game-plan.
“I did things well. I think I returned better than the other days, but was impossible at the beginning. I think I understood that I had to go back too late, because I was not able to, he was serving bombs and hitting the right spots all the time,” he said.
“So I decided to go, like, eight metres behind the baseline later on in the match and I think worked better for me.”
Medvedev hit 31 winners to 12 unforced errors in a muffled atmosphere at the Bercy arena, where the tournament is being played without spectators amid government restrictions to contain the rise of COVID-19 cases in France.
The 24-year-old, who arrived in Paris having lost five of his eight previous matches, broke for 3-2 as Raonic made yet another forehand unforced error.
Both then stayed strong on serve and Medvedev, who saved six of seven break points throughout, bagged the opening set with a timely serve and volley on his first opportunity.
Raonic dropped serve in the 11th game of the second set but he broke straight back to force a tiebreak, in which he was out of sorts, with Medvedev wrapping it up with a smash to reach his fourth Masters final.
“When you play against Milos, you are always at risk because (if) one time he breaks you, it is very tough to break him back,” said Medvedev.
“It was shaky here and there, but I am really happy to be through to the final.”
Russian Daniil Medvedev outclassed German Alexander Zverev 5-7 6-4 6-1 in the Paris final on Sunday to claim his third Masters title.
The third seed, who also defeated Zverev in the Shanghai final last year, returned strongly throughout the match to take his first title of the year.
Medvedev, 24, had more energy in the deciding set and made the most of his opportunities against an inconsistent Zverev, who had won five of their six previous meetings.
A double fault earned the Russian his eighth ATP title after two hours and seven minutes.
Medvedev said he pulled off the win by making his “opponent crazy”.
Both players had a high first serve percentage early on, holding comfortably. Zverev went 40-0 up on the Russian’s serve at 6-5 to earn the first break points of the match.
Medvedev saved the first two by dictating the rallies, but he whacked a forehand long on the third and conceded his second set of the tournament.
Zverev faced his first break points in a fiercely contested third game in the second set, which he won, but he dropped serve in the ninth game when he sent a crosscourt backhand long.
Medvedev won his service game to love to level the match and send it into a decider.
He broke to love, held serve after saving four break points and broke again thanks to a booming service return as he moved 4-0 up.
With his confidence shattered, Zverev never looked capable of mounting a comeback as Medvedev added to his 2019 Shanghai and Cincinnati Masters titles.
Both players will take part in the season-ending ATP Tour Finals at the O2 in London from Nov. 15-22.
Medvedev, the fourth Russian player to win at Bercy after three-time champion Marat Safin, Nikolay Davydenko and Karen Khachanov, said he would go into the tournament full of confidence.
“I’m coming in better shape than last year. Last year I was real exhausted, I had lost in the first round in Paris. That’s when you lose your confidence,” he said.
“When you lose first round you always lose your confidence.”
Nadal gearing up for ATP Finals after Paris
Rafael Nadal says the Paris Masters has been a “positive tournament” for him despite Saturday’s semi-final defeat to Alexander Zverev, and hopes it will help him in his bid for a maiden ATP Finals title this month.
The Spaniard world number two went down 6-4 7-5 to German fourth seed Zverev, once again failing to add the elusive title at the Bercy arena to his burgeoning cabinet that is adorned by 20 Grand Slam singles trophies.
“I have been competitive, I have been there until the end against a player who is playing great on a surface that he’s winning a lot,” Nadal told reporters. “So (it) has been a positive tournament for me.
“Of course, not happy about the loss, but that’s part of the game. I played against a great player, and I accept the defeat. He played a little bit better than me.”
Next up for the 34-year-old will be the season ending ATP Finals, which will be held at The O2 in London without spectators from Nov. 15 to 22.
The Finals, which is contested by the top eight men’s singles players and doubles teams, is another tournament that Nadal has failed to win.
“I spent hours on court. Of course I wanted to win the tournament, but it’s always difficult,” Nadal said about his Paris Masters campaign.
“But I had the right attitude during the whole event, I think, fighting in every match. That gave me the chance to play four matches that I think that will be helpful for London.
“I need to adjust a couple of things, but I am doing well on all the important things. So let’s see. I have one week and a little bit more to keep working, and I hope be ready for it.”