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Daniil Medvedev beats Denis Shapovalov (4/6 6/3 6/2) in the Erste Bank Open finals in Vienna on the 30 of October.

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This victory is important for the former world number one. It allows Daniil Medvedev to approach the last two tournaments of the year with more serenity. As a finalist at the Rolex Paris Master and the ATP Finals in 2021, the Russian player has points at stake. They will be crucial if he doesn’t want to lose the 4th spot of the rankings to Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Denis Shapovalov’s game plan was clear from the very first rallies. Through his incessant drop shots and rises to the net, he prevented Daniil Medvedev from developing his back-of-the court tennis. In the third game, the Canadian got break points – he converted the second one at the net: 2/1. Denis Shapovalov dominated the rallies thanks to balls taken early and short cross-court shots. He gained a double break after an unforced error from his opponent: 4/1. Daniil Medvedev took advantage of a poor service game from his rival to reduce his points deficit: 4/2. But both players won their remaining games: 6/3.

In the second set, the gap in the level of play between the two players narrowed. Denis Shapovalov made more errors while Daniil Medvedev was more aggressive. The latter took advantage of a sequence of four unforced errors by his opponent to take the lead: 3/1, serve to follow.  Daniil Medvedev didn’t manage to inprint his pace. The outcome of the match depended on Denis Shapovalov’s ability to show consistency. The Canadian took back his break: 4/3 – but his unforced errors kept on. The world number four sealed the second set: 6/4.

During the deciding set, the two players followed opposite paths. Daniil Medvedev increased his level of play while Denis Shapovalov’s decreased. Locked into his opponent’s game, the 19th player in the world caved in. He made a double fault that gave the break to Medvedev:  2/1, serve to follow. The former world number one found back his usual level. The games passed before the eyes of Denis Shapovalov, powerless: 5/2. Daniil Medvdev successfully served for the match: 6/2. 

This final highlights the Canadian’s main weakness: his lack of consistency. He mastered the first set thanks to his forward-constructed tennis: drop shots, serve-volleys, short cross-court forehands to get Daniil Medvedev off the court. However, he let go this winning strategy in the second set. Locked in endless rallies from the back of the court, he committed too many unforced errors.

It took Daniil Medvedev more than two sets to get back to his usual level of play. Throughout the match, his tennis gradually improved. At the beginning of the encounter, he lacked initiative and efficient serves. In the last games of the match, he showed his defensive abilities and multiplied accelerated strikes down the line.

Rafael Nadal defines a champion as an athlete who manages to win even when he doesn’t play the way he wants. Daniil Medvedev did just that in the final of the Vienna Open.

Marnie Abbou

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