SHANGHAI: Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas hits a return to  Daniil Medvedev of Russia during their semi-final at the Shanghai Masters on Saturday.—Reuters
SHANGHAI: Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas hits a return to Daniil Medvedev of Russia during their semi-final at the Shanghai Masters on Saturday.—Reuters

SHANGHAI: Russia’s Daniil Medvedev remarkably reached his ninth final of the season as he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 at the Shanghai Masters on Saturday.

US Open runner-up Medvedev, chasing his fourth ATP Tour title in a breakthrough 2019 season, will meet Germany’s Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final.

Third seed Medvedev won 84% of his first-serve points and saved four of five break points to improve his win-loss record for the calendar year.

The tiebreak saw the first 10 points won by the server before Medvedev pounced to capture the opening set as Greek sixth seed Tsitsipas struggled with his backhand.

Serving for the match at 5-4, Medvedev conceded a break after committing four errors. But he shook off the disappointment by breaking Tsitsipas in the next game and went on to book a spot in his sixth straight final with a clinical serve and volley combination.

The 23-year-old Russian Medvedev embellished his fast-growing reputation with a fifth victory in as many matches against Tsitsipas, 21.

In contrast, he is yet to overcome the 22-year-old Zverev in four attempts, though none of the contests took place this year.

“I did say before this year and during this year in the beginning that Sascha [Zverev] was the best in our ‘Next Gen’ group,” the world number four said. “He won three Masters when none of us were even close to doing this. Positions have changed a little bit so I think I can contest him right now.”

Zverev ended 11th-seeded Italian Matteo Berrettini’s run by taking their semifinal 6-3, 6-4, ending the match on an ace, one of 11 he had.

“This was a much different match than playing against Roger [Federer yesterday],” Zverev said. “I take a lot of positives from this into the final tomorrow.”

Zverev said past meetings with Medvedev stood for nothing because the Russian has improved markedly since their last match, in 2018.

“He’s different this year,” Zverev said. “The last few months he’s probably the best player in the world. He’s definitely playing the best tennis of his life.”

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2019