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Relentless Medvedev wears down Sinner to win Rotterdam title, his first title of 2023
The Russian came from a set down to win his first title since Vienna in October last year
Daniil Medvedev beat Jannik Sinner 5-7, 6-2,6-2 in an exhausting battle to win the ABN/AMRO World Indoor Tournament title in Rotterdam title on Sunday, sealing his first tournament victory of 2023.
The former world No 1 trailed by a set to the Italian, who was looking for back-to-back titles having won in Montpellier last weekend, but he was at his resilient best as he clawed his way back for his 16th Tour victory.
The win will lift Medvedev back inside the world’s top 10 when the rankings are updated on Monday. Sinner, who played equally brilliantly in a high-quality encounter, will be 12th.
“It was a very tough match, I would say mentally for both of us, I think,” Medvedev said. “Jannik was on top of me, especially in the first part of the first set. I managed to come back into the set even though, in my opinion, I was playing worse than him. Maybe that gave me some time to find my rhythm.
“I started playing just a little bit more offensive on a few shots, and it managed to work well at the beginning of the second set. I just managed to continue pushing him mentally down until the end of the match.”
Brilliant Sinner strikes first
Medvedev had won all four of their previous battles but Sinner fended off some early pressure before making the first move, showing brilliant movement across the baseline and then forcing a poor volley from Medvedev to break for 3-1.
Sinner was showing nice variety, using the occasional drop shot and coming to the net with good effect too. At 40-15, he showed the first signs of vulnerability, losing three straight points as Medvedev forced a break point, but he then came up with three good first serves to hold on and extend his lead.
Medvedev lifted his speed on groundstrokes and after holding for 2-4, he again forced 15-30 on the Sinner serve. The Italian played a nice point to get level but then a poor drop shot and missed backhand handed Medvedev the break back.
The players had to wait for a few minutes as an electronic board behind the court malfunctioned but Medvedev retained his concentration to hold for 4-4.
By this stage, both men were testing each other’s stamina as well as their mental strength as they played a series of long rallies. Sinner was winning more than his fair share, though, and great defence from the Italian helped him hold to move ahead again.
Medvedev put pressure on Sinner by holding quickly but the Italian showed his resolve, holding well and then, at 6-5, going up 0-30. Big serving from Medvedev got him to 40-30 but Sinner guessed right after some luck with a net cord and then played a brilliant point to get to set point, before breaking serve to clinch the set with another forcing forehand.
Resilient Medvedev strikes back
Medvedev was not about to quietly, though.
The Russian was immediately on the offensive at the start of the second set and the former US Open champion broke in the opening game, albeit aided by a net-cord return winner. He consolidated the break to lead 2-0.
Sinner reacted well, moving to the net when he could, behind big groundstrokes to try to keep Medvedev off-guard. It worked well, and he held to get on the board for 1-2.
The Russian was beginning to exert real pressure on Sinner by now and at 3-1, he had two chances to get a second break but the Italian saved them both with massive hitting and a bit of luck on a mis-hit overhead. Sinner saved a third break point but on a fourth, a double fault gave Medvedev a second break.
Sinner threatened to get one of the breaks back at 15-40 in the following game but Medvedev held to extend his lead. Sinner held serve but Medvedev finished off the set in style to take it to a decider.
Medvedev maintains momentum
The momentum was all with Medvedev, who by the end of the second set, was winning the vast majority of points when rallies went nine shorts or more, having been outgunned in that department in the first set.
Sinner held to open the third set but Mededev continued to test his resolve, pushing him back behind the baseline with the depth of his groundstrokes and at times, simply refusing to miss.
Sinner, by contrast, was looking a little jaded and though he saved two break points at 1-1, 0-40, unbelievable defence from Medvedev saw him miss a backhand and the Russian had the break.
inner was bent double at the end of the third game but he continued to fight, forcing a break point in the next game only for Medvedev to save it well with a fine backhand and go on to hold for 3-1.
Sinner continued to fight but Medvedev’s first serve kept him ahead throughout the rest of the set and the pressure was too much for Sinner, a second break giving Medvedev a 5-2 lead and one game later, he wrapped up victory.
Sinner said he was happy with his week and to have pushed Medvedev harder than in their past meetings.
“I played many matches in the past days and I’m very happy to be in this kind of position,” he said. “Obviously in the first set I felt great, I started off in the best way. In the second, the momentum changed a little bit and in the third set I didn’t serve that well.
“But I think I have improved, especially against him, and so I will try to look forward to (more) of these kinds of matches.”