Tennis

Federer or exit for Nadal at ATP Finals?

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But the Spaniard must still wait to find out if he has done enough to set up a semifinal showdown against Roger Federer, who cruised past Novak Djokovic on Thursday evening to end the Serb's chances of overtaking Nadal atop the rankings in 2019. Follow @cnnsport Such is life in a round-robin tournament, the only one on the ATP calendar this year. Nadal's gripping 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-5 win in two hours, 52 minutes at the O2 Arena in London against the already qualified Tsitsipas gave him a 2-1 record in Group Andre Agassi. A day after Federer's serving masterclass, Nadal himself didn't face a break point, was sublime at the net and delivered his usual highlight-reel blows from the baseline to down the young Greek phenom. However, if defending champion Alexander Zverev defeats US Open finalist Daniil Medvedev in Friday's nightcap, Nadal exits. Tsitsipas, Nadal and Zverev would all sport identical 2-1 records and with the first criteria to settle a three-way tie being percentage of sets won, the two "Next Gen" stars pip the 33-year-old veteran. Should, however, Medvedev topple Zverev — and the Russian won in straight sets in the Shanghai final just last month — Nadal books his spot in the semifinals here for the first time since 2015.

Zverev the favorite?

Zverev might still be the favorite against Medvedev, given he leads their head-to-heads overall 4-1 and Friday afternoon's result ended the 23-year-old's hopes of progressing. It's a so-called dead rubber for Medvedev — although a win guarantees him an extra $215,000 — and he might still be deflated from his agonizing loss to Nadal on Wednesday. Medvedev held a 5-1 lead with a match point but couldn't finish the job two months after the pair's similarly gripping encounter in the US Open final. Nadal's win that September day lifted his grand slam tally to 19 — one behind men's leader Federer — but he is incredibly still seeking a first title at the ATP Finals. Ending the drought seemed unlikely a week ago, since he was a question mark to even play due to an abdominal injury. Further, Zverev crushed Nadal on Monday. But the rally against Medvedev turned his fortunes around, even if Nadal admitted he could play plenty better. Even if he doesn't progress, Nadal figures to leave London with "good feelings" — a term he often employs — ahead of competing in the revamped Davis Cup next week at home in Spain. Dominic Thiem won Group Bjorn Borg on Tuesday and said Thursday after his loss to Matteo Berrettini that he was thinking ahead to the semifinals. He didn't want to linger against the Italian. Tsitsipas found himself in a similar position but desperately seemed intent to down Nadal for the first time on a hard court. There were no break points in the first set, although Nadal did have half chances.

Uncharacteristic errors

Errors from Nadal arose at costly times in the tiebreak, at 2-2, 2-3 and 4-4. Overall, he struck 15 unforced errors in the first set, an unusually high number for him. Nadal, though, was serving and protectiRead More – Source