November 19, 2020
Novak Djokovic is just one defeat from being knocked out of the ATP finals in London.
That extraordinary situation was created by the incredible Daniil Medvedev.
The fearless Russian beat Djokovic 6-3, 6-3 with a typically swashbuckling display on Wednesday night.
Now the normally-immaculate Serb finds himself in a sudden-death shoot-out at the group stage.
It’s not what we expected from the world number one and reigning Wimbledon champion.
Djokovic has to beat Alexander Zverev on Friday in order to progress to the semi-finals.
The German found slightly better form when he beat Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
But Zverev will have to play much better if he is to eliminate Novak.
It’s not an impossible task. Sascha beat Djokovic on his way to this title in 2018.
But in reality, neither player currently looks capable of taking this crown again, before the tournament moves to Turin next year.
Judging by their form in recent days, only three players are true contenders for the ATP 2020 title.
Dominic Thiem and Rafael Nadal played such exquisite tennis in their own clash earlier this week that either man would be a worthy champion.
And Medvedev is playing with such natural panache that he is clearly capable of beating anyone right now.
Isn’t it time the world learned to love and appreciate Medvedev?
The man is so marvelously uninhibited in everything he does. He has the heart of a lion, too.
Medvedev went toe-to-toe with Djokovic in the opening six, scintillating games of their Wednesday-night showdown.
Then Daniil simply hit a level of such crushing brilliance that he won seven games in succession. Novak had no answer.
Djokovic said later: ‘I can’t allow these things to happen when I’m playing the top players in the world.
‘He was just better, no question about it. I struggled to find the right level.’
Medvedev didn’t let him. The younger man barely put a foot wrong. In fact he made only twelve unforced errors in the entire match.
Djokovic made more than twice as many and returned fewer than half of Medvedev’s first serves.
Daniil managed ten aces against the greatest returner tennis has ever seen. It was amazing to behold.
Medvedev said: ‘I like to play Novak, even though he is one of the greatest.
‘I was watching him win Grand Slams when I was eight years old. To be completely honest I’m sure he didn’t play his best today.’
Zverev may also take heart from this shock and believe Djokovic is vulnerable.
Sascha said: ‘I played much better than on Monday. I needed to get my rhythm back.
‘I’ve played Novak twice here before and I’m looking forward to it. I’m hoping to play even better on Friday.’
London’s last ATP finals – at least for the foreseeable future – has already seen some fantastic matches.
And in the next few days we may be treated to even more gripping entertainment.
Doesn’t it just make you long for Wimbledon 2021?
The chance to see these superstars in longer matches outdoors on grass is just months away.
And the good thing is, we can book our places at Wimbledon 2021 already. We can’t wait! How about you?