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In a thriller in Turin, Djokovic defeats Medvedev.

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Novak Djokovic survived a lung-busting three-set marathon match with Daniil Medvedev on Friday to keep his chances of becoming the Nitto ATP Finals’ first undefeated champion and walking away with the largest payday in tennis history alive.

Despite having already qualified for the semi-finals, the Serbian pushed himself against Medvedev, winning 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(2) to lead the Red Group with a 3-0 record and handing the 2020 champion his third straight third-set tie-break loss at the event.

Djokovic hopes to make more history this week by tying Roger Federer’s record of six victories at the prestigious year-end event. The Serbian, who last won the tournament in 2015, will earn $4,740,300 if he wins the trophy undefeated in Turin.

“This match against one of my greatest rivals today is very important, despite the fact that I had already qualified,” Djokovic said after his three-hour, 11-minute victory. “I was desperate to win.

“Daniil and I have had some disagreements in the past, and I knew coming into today’s match that it would be his final match of the season, and he would not want to finish with a loss. I got off to a great start. [I] had some break points in the second [set], but he played very well in those crucial points. He was playing extremely fast. I struggled a lot in the third set because I didn’t fall well physically. It is both a battle and a fight.

“Finding the last ounce of energy to get back into the game. At 4-5, I read his serve and anticipated well, putting myself in a good position. I began.

Both hit their groundstrokes with fierce accuracy and power in a high-quality and physical encounter in Turin, striking heavy blows to pull each other around. Djokovic won the first set without error, but Medvedev responded by winning the second set on his fourth set point to force a decider.

With little separating them, it was the seventh seed who won the decider, rallying from a break down while maintaining his intensity and consistency to earn his 40th tour-level win of the season.

The 35-year-old will face Taylor Fritz in the semi-finals on Saturday, when his fitness will be put to the test after spending more than three hours on court against Medvedev in a match that pushed both players to their limits. Tsitsipas will face Andrey Rublev in the Red Group on Friday evening, with the winner advancing to face Casper Ruud.

After victories in Tel Aviv and Astana last month, the former World No. 1 has now won 16 of his last 17 matches.

Djokovic was impressive throughout the match against Medvedev. During the long exchanges, he timed the ball perfectly from the baseline and waited patiently for his chances to seal the first set. After missing break point opportunities at 1-1 and 4-4 in the second set, the Serbian saved three set points at 4-5 to hold, fending off the last one with an epic 33-shot rally that ended with a forehand winner.

Medvedev, on the other hand, would not be denied, hitting through Djokovic in the tie-break to level the match. In a game that lasted more than 15 minutes, the fourth seed broke for 5-4 in a tight third set. However, Medvedev was unable to serve out, as Djokovic broke back. With a tie-break remaining to decide the thriller, the Serbian surged ahead when it mattered most, improving to 8-4 in his ATP Head2Head series against Medvedev.

Medvedev won the Nitto ATP Finals in 2020 after reaching the final the previous year. Last year, the 26-year-old clawed past Jannik Sinner in an epic round-robin match when both players’ fates were already sealed. In similar circumstances this year, Medvedev came out on the losing end, finishing the round-robin stage 0-3.

The fourth seed finishes his season with a 45-19 record. He advanced to the final of the Australian Open before winning tour-level titles in Los Cabos and Vienna.

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