Why Sinner can still qualify for Turin semi-finals – and how Medvedev has already done it

The world No 2 has already won the Red Group – and a man who hasn’t played a single match in it yet can still qualify for the semi-finals

Daniil Medvedev, Masters 2021

Racquet in one hand, calculator in the other – that’s how to approach the round-robin stage of the Nitto ATP Finals. A few minutes after Daniil Medvedev’s victory (6-3, 6-7, 6-7) over Alexander Zverev, Matteo Berrettini, who was forced to retire on Sunday against the German, announced his withdrawal from the rest of the competition. As a direct consequence of his replacement by Jannik Sinner, the Russian is guaranteed to finish at the top of the red group.

Why? Well, it’s “simple”: because of the rule relating to the number of matches played. In the event of a tie in the total number of victories between two or more players who have not played the same number of matches, the ATP Finals rules stipulate that the tie is broken by the number of matches played by each player.

For example: a record of two wins and one loss beats a record of two wins and no losses; one win and two losses beats one win with no loss.

In the event of a tie between three players, the player who has played the fewest matches is out of the running, and the two remaining players will be split by the winner of their direct confrontation.

Currently in the Red Group

Ranking :

1 – Medvedev (2-0)
2 – Zverev (1-1)
3 – Hurkacz (0-1)
4 – Sinner (0-0) [substitute for Berrettini].

Matches played:

Medvedev beat Hurkacz: 6-7, 6-3, 6-4
Zverev beat Berrettini: 7-6, 1-0 ret.
Medvedev beat Zverev: 6-3, 6-7, 7-6

Matches to be played :

Sinner – Hurkacz
Medvedev – Sinner
Zverev – Sinner

Why Medvedev has won the group already

Sinner, at best, would have two wins by defeating Hurkacz and then Medvedev, who already has two wins. If Zverev beat Hurkacz on the final day of round-robin play, this is the only scenario in which three men have two wins:

1 – Medvedev (2-1)
2 – Zverev (2-1)
3 – Sinner (2-0)
4 – Hurkacz (0-3)

With Sinner having played one match less than Zverev and Medvedev, he would automatically be behind them. And thanks to his victory over the German on Tuesday, the Russian would finish first.

With Medvedev also beating Hurkacz on day one, he would be guaranteed to finish first in the following scenario: Hurkacz beats Sinner and Medvedev, Sinner beats Medvedev.

1 – Medvedev (2-1)
2 – Hurkacz (2-1)
3 – Zverev (1-2)
4 – Sinner (1-1)

In a three-man one-win situation – Sinner beats Hurckaz and loses to Medvedev, Hurkacz beats Zverev – the Italian would be eliminated due to fewer matches played, and the Pole would take second place thanks to his head-to-head win over the German.

1 – Medvedev (3-0)
2 – Hurkacz (1-2)
3 – Zverev (1-2)
4 – Sinner (1-1)

Sinner can still qualify

In a press conference after his loss to Medvedev, Zverev was a little confused. “What are the rules? Sinner cannot qualify for semis, right?” he asked.

“I think you need to have played all three to qualify. Is that the rule? Is that not the rule? I think. I don’t know. He can? OK. He can still qualify,” he concluded, still a little in doubt, even after a journalist had enlightened him.

And that’s absolutely right – the 20-year-old Italian, although disadvantaged by his status as an alternate, still has a chance of qualifying. To do so, he must beat Hurkacz and then Medvedev – who is already certain to be top of the group – and hope that Zverev loses to the Pole.

1 – Medvedev (2-1)
2 – Sinner (2-0)
3 – Hurkacz (1-2)
4 – Zverev (1-2)

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