Grand Slam tournament winners Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams pulled out of their taper tournaments, their focus already on the Australian Open, long before Alexander Zverev pinched his back in the second set of his must-have match of the ATP Cup against Daniil Medvedev.
He left the court for treatment on Saturday and returned, taking the match to three sets before Medvedev finally converted to secure Russia’s victory over Germany and a place in the final.
Medvedev, the No. 4 in the rankings, rose when Zverev began to struggle, but eventually tensed, committing two double faults at match point before serving 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. Andrey Rublev had previously beaten Jan-Lennard Struff 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
“Crazy party,” Medvedev said. “Happy to win even if I didn’t like many things.
“The most important thing is to win for the country and be in the final.”
Russia will meet Italy in the final after Fabio Fognini defeated Pablo Carreño 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 and Matteo Berrettini swept Roberto Bautista 6-3, 7-5 to account for Spain, runner-up in 2020.
Rafael Nadal did not play for Spain during the week due to lower back pain, but he practiced and is expected to be fine for the Australian Open, where he is aiming for a record 21 men’s Grand Slam titles.
Zverev had helped Germany win 2-1 in the quarter-finals over reigning champion Serbia, rebounding from a narrow loss to top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the singles with a victory in the deciding doubles.
But in the semi-finals, his movement and serve slowed after getting a doctor timeout for treatment in the second set.
Medvedev bounced back and prepared for victory with a service break in the penultimate game, and Zverev shattered frustration.
“It helped that he started to move slower, serving slower in the second set,” Medvedev said. “I felt that at the beginning of the third, I could stay in front and make the game easy. But in the heat of the game, he began to feel better. I had to stay in it as long as I could. “