Chennai Open: Medvedev clinches victory in a thriller

Facing match point, the 99th ranked Daniil Medvedev hit back to back winners, one of which came after what was the longest rally of the match.

Daniil Medvedev celebrates after making it to the final.   -  S. R. Raghunathan

Daniil Medvedev entered his maiden ATP World Tour final with a 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 win over Israel’s Dudi Sela at the Centre Court of the Chennai Open on Saturday. The Russian had to save a match point on the Israeli’s serve in the second set before powering into the summit clash.

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Both the players began cautiously but were competent right through. Sela seemed to have started from where he left off, his stance-perfect backhand cross-court shots, his favourite and arguably his best, earning him winners. Medvedev, for his part was earning his points with dipping backhands.

With little to choose between the two — both of them had their share of unforced errors — it was the Israeli who earned the first break in the seventh game. Another great one-handed backhand that Medvedev could only manage to touch, hit Bautista Agut who was enjoying the match from the sidelines. An overhead volley from Medvedev sailed long and that gave the World No. 96 the break. He took the set without much fuss.

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Medvedev started packing in more punch in his forehands from the second set. While it was giving him solid winners on side, he also became susceptible to more errors, having compromised on control for speed. At 4-4, Medvedev tried to lob a ball over the Israeli who was waiting at the net. The ball sailed long and he conceded a break.

Facing match point, the 99th ranked Medvedev hit back to back winners, one of which came after what was the longest rally of the match. The Russian picked the ball from wide off the net for a breakpoint opportunity. He followed it up with a forehand and dominated the tiebreaker to stay in the match.

Sela, who was far superior at the net till then, began making baseline errors, his backhand often catching the net at crucial moments. A frustrated Sela, after all the good work he put in the first set, fell apart in the third set.

A slouching Sela had no answer to the stream of forehand winners that the Russian was belting right in the ‘T’ zone. With a third set lead in hand, Medvedev conserved his energy on Sela’s serve and closed out the match with an ace.

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