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In Sunday’s Rotterdam final, Sinner must snap a losing streak and Medvedev must prolong one

Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas have met four times previously, but Sunday’s Rotterdam final represents their most important match to date.

Sinner and Medvedev Jannik Sinner and Daniil Medvedev (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Earlier this week in Rotterdam, Jannik Sinner calmly marched past Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6-4, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals. Having dropped four consecutive matches against the Greek, including a heartbreaking five-setter in the round of 16 at this year’s Australian Open, the triumph represented a positive step for the 21-year-old Italian.

Not only was Sinner riding a winning streak, the 21-year-old, fresh off the Montpellier title, was also demonstrating his ability to adapt and overcome difficult adversaries like Tsitsipas. Sinner, typically one to play it close to the vest in interviews, admitted that the victory important.

“Head to head, I am still far back from him, so for me this is a very important win,” he said. “I lost a tough one in Australia where I felt like I was playing great.”

Next challenge: Medvedev, an old nemesis

The challenges never stop on the ATP Tour, and a few days after his colossal takedown of Tsitsipas, after reaching the final without dropping a single set, Sinner gets another chance at redemption. He’ll face Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, a player that has won all four of their previous matches, in Sunday’s blockbuster final at the ABN AMRO Open.

Having won seven consecutive matches across his title run at Montpellier last week and his trip to the final this week, Sinner will have to find a way to defuse a player that has always kept him under his thumb.

“Tomorrow is going to be a tough challenge,” the Italian said on Saturday. “For sure he is very solid. Serves well, to break him it’s very very tough and also my service game I need to serve very carefully, and very brave. So I will have a chat for sure with my team, and hopefully I can improve on the last meetings.”

On the 50th anniversary of the inaugural ABN Amro, Sinner was asked if he would like to become a part of the lore of the tournament. He seemed more focused on solving his opponent…

“Of course, in every tournament where you play you would love to leave a little mark there but honestly, tomorrow I am very very focused already on how I’m gonna play,” he said. “As I said, the last meetings, he won all of them so I will try to make some improvements – that for me is the most important.”

Sinner v Medvedev, Head to Head

2020 Marseille | Round of 16 | Medvedev 1-6 6-1 6-2

2021 Marseille | QF | Medvedev 6-2 6-4

2021 ATP Finals | Round Robin | Medvedev 6-0 6-7(5), 7-6(8)

2022 Vienna | QF | Medvedev 6-4 6-2

Medvedev’s challenge? Keep the air of invincibility..

For Medvedev, who has won eight of the ten sets he has played against Sinner, the challenge will be to maintain his aura against Sinner.

He did that perfectly when the pair met at Vienna last October. The Russian lost just 12 points on serve in his quarter-final victory over Sinner, and never faced a break point. He also made 76 percent of his first-serves – much higher than his career average of 61 percent, and his 2023 average of 67 percent.

The blueprint for success is there for Medvedev, as it always seems to be indoors, where he is 84-34 lifetime with seven titles.

“Jannik is a top player, and he can pose problems to anybody basically,” said Medvedev last year in Vienna. “The last two Grand Slams, he played five sets with the [eventual] winner, so Jannik is a top player and I’m really happy today with my performance.

“I served amazingly well, I almost didn’t do any unforced errors, I was solid behind the baseline. Everything was working well today and I’m really happy about it.”

Daniil Medvedev 2020 Nitto ATP Finals
Tennis – ATP Finals – Pala Alpitour, Turin, Italy – November 18, 2021 Russia’s Daniil Medvedev reacts during his group stage match against Italy’s Jannik Sinner || 213021_0043

The great unknown – what will Sinner do differently?

If Medvedev remains in a groove it will be up to Sinner to try and disrupt him. However, if the italian has been paying attention he will have noticed that Tsitsipas has had great success coming to the net against Medvedev recently. It’s no secret that the rangy Russian loves to camp behind the baseline and his court position is there to be exploited.

Whether Sinner is comfortable enough to employ Tsitsipas’ mode of attack remains to be seen but it will be important for the Italian to try to get Medvedev out of his comfort zone in some way. No doubt his coaching team, led by the legendary Darren Cahill is looking at this match as a perfect opportunity to expand Sinner’s range against a rival who has held the upper hand against him ever since they first met in 2020.

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