2021 ATP Finals wrap: Round 3 – Zverev, Ruud complete final four
NORWEGIAN Casper Ruud has stunned fifth seed Russian Andrey Rublev in the deciding match to reach the ATP Finals semi-finals, completing the four successful qualifiers to the knockout stage. Ruud joined world number one Novak Djokovic from Green Group, while German Alexander Zverev secured his spot alongside Daniil Medvedev.
Russian second seed Mededev capped off a flawless group stage with a third straight win, albeit with yet another three-setter. The group topper took care of Italian young gun Jannik Sinner with a blitzing bagel first set, before back-to-back tiebreakers in the remaining two sets resulted in the match being neck and neck. Medvedev won 6-0 6-7 7-6, with the final set tiebreaker going 10-8 before he could salute, overcoming heavy local crowd support for the Italian to win in to hours and 29 minutes. He served 18 aces to five, and won 76 and 60 per cent of his first and second serve points off a 71 per cent clip, higher than Rublev on all counts. After breaking his opponent three times in the first set, both players only produced two breaks each in the final two sets.
“You want to win and keep the momentum, but at the same time you don’t want to go three hours 30 minutes and break your body,” Medvedev said post-match. “The first set was tricky because in a way it was good as it was 30 minutes in my favour and I played a pretty good level.
“The second set I was 100 per cent as I wanted to try and finish the match quickly, which didn’t happen as Jannik played a great level. I am just happy to win and I will just try to be ready for Saturday.”
Whilst Medvedev was already assured a final four spot, German Zverev took his spot with a dominant 6-2 6-4 win over Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz. On debut at the ATP Finals, Hurkacz went through the round robin stage winless, and in this match, down and out in 62 minutes. Zverev bounced back from his epic three-setter with Medvedev to ensure a semi-finals appearance against Djokovic. Both players served 11 aces, but the third seed was more consistent off serve, winning 86 per cent of his first serve points to Hurkacz’s 63 per cent, whilst also serving off a 77 to 65 per cent clip.
“Today was a tough match mentally because I needed to win, so I was 100 per cent focused,” Zverev said post-match. “It was very up and down, and I am happy to be through and win in straight sets. You can always improve. The margins are always very small between the top players, but to win you have to do the details right. I hope I can do that on Saturday.”
Whilst many were expecting the final Green Group matches to go as planned, Norwegian eighth seed Ruud had other ideas against Rublev, stunning the fifth seed Russian in two hours and 24 minutes, to secure an unlikely semi-finals place. Ruud suffered a 6-2 first set loss, but found a way to battle his way along to win the last to sets and emerge victorious, 2-6 7-5 7-6. Both players served 14 aces and served at a 66 per cent efficiency, with the Russian producing an 84 per cent success rate off his first serve, compared to 65 per cent for Ruud. Despite this, Ruud won 51 to 42 per cent off the second serve, and managed to win a crucial break in the second set, then held off in the tiebreaker (7-5) to secure the win.
“The court is playing very fast and Andrey plays very fast,” Ruud said post-match. “He rips the ball harder than anyone on the Tour and serves very well on his first serve. We all want to play under control and with initiative, but it is not easy against Rublev because he makes you run all the time and play defensively all the time. I knew I had to fight fire with fire. On the big points I think I played quite smartly.”
There were no surprises in the last game of the round robin with world number one Djokovic storming to a dominant 6-2 6-1 victory over Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie in 66 minutes. The Serbian never looked like losing, only dropping nine points on serve at a 68 per cent efficiency and saving the only break point he faced. By comparison he created 10 break point chances, and broke Norrie fie times. The Brit struggled off his serve, with just 52 and 41 per cent of his first and second serve points, and coming off a 57 per cent clip, in what was a quick match to finish off the ATP Finals.
ATP FINALS ROUND 3 RESULTS:
 Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [ALT – 10] Cameron Norrie (GBR)
 Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated  Andrey Rublev (RUS) 2-6 7-5 7-6
 Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated [ALT – 9] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 6-0 6-7 7-6
 Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated  Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-2 6-4
ATP FINALS SEMI-FINALS SCHEDULE:
 Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs.  Alexander Zverev (GER)
 Daniil Medvedev (RUS) vs.  Andrey Rublev (RUS)