It was an upside-down week in Turin, filled with heartache for some players and opportunities for others. By the time the game ended on Thursday, however, three of the four semi-finalists had been determined and it came as no surprise to anyone that their names were Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev. They were the three hottest players for most of the time 2021 Season, and since everyone knows that they will probably have to go through one thing and possibly the other to win that title, they have an exciting fight set up until the end.
A win at the ATP World Tour Finals that include a win over one or both of the other members of that trio are important to all three of these players, but who needs it most is up for debate. A strong argument could be made for Zverev as the man in need of a title the most this week.
Although the German came out big in the Olympics, he’s the only one of the three to have won a major and stayed behind in his lonely slam final in New York last year. His last game against the Serbs was a tough five-set defeat in the semi-finals of the US Opened this year and having fallen in the round robin game against Medvedev a few weeks ago in Paris and earlier this week, he’s now lagging behind in his rivalry with the Russian. With these two he is clearly in the thick of it, but since he does not want to give up even an inch more ground, he will try to turn the tables by winning the title in Turin, perhaps even using it as a stepping stone to his first own slam title in 2022.
Of course, Medvedev will hardly try to allow Zverev to gain ground in their rivalry, but rather to create a little more distance between himself and the German and at the same time aim to get one step closer to Djokovic in order to get Djokovic off his top of the rankings remove. A victory over both would be an advantage.
Guglielmo Mangiapane, Reuters
It would put him more firmly in the driver’s seat at his generation rival Zverev, but a win over Djokovic would likely mean more. He follows the veteran head-to-head, and when both were at full speed in the Paris final a few weeks ago, it was the current number 1 who has prevailed. When he and his colleagues are the Big. wants to loosen the stranglehold further 3 at stake, a win here would be a step in the right direction.
Of course, Djokovic will put a damper on any ambitions that Medvedev or Zverev might have in the last few days of this event. At first glance, it is easy to assume that this tournament, on the whole, does not mean much to the Serbs. Some already consider him to be GOAT with everything he’s won in his career, including winning this title multiple times. But at least for the near future, his result here may be more important now than on some of his previous appearances.
There is no question that a significant shift is taking place in men’s tennis. With various fitness issues leading to question marks around Rafael Nadal and, to a far greater extent, Roger Federer, this shift will likely only move faster in favor of the younger players. But despite this shift, Djokovic has remained as dominant as ever 2021, secured three of the four majors and came just one game before collecting the entire set. He made a good recovery from this disappointment, as evidenced by the way he defeated Medvedev from behind in Paris. Sure, Father Time always wins in the end, but whether or not the time comes, ending the season with a win in Turin would send everyone a strong message that he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Only time will tell who will be the last man on Sunday to stand on Sunday. A surprise might even be in store if the winner of Friday’s Andrey Rublev or Casper Ruud plays spoilers. Still, the odds suggest it is one of these three. Nobody would be a surprise. Everything would be worthy. And with a little luck, they’ll produce an entertaining fireworks display that serves as a foretaste of what fans can expect 2022.