Thursday at the Shanghai Masters provided multiple matches in which top-10 players mastered small margins.
Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Hubert Hurkacz in a 50-50 match which went down to the wire. Roger Federer saved multiple set points in the first set and frankly stole that set, eventually defeating David Goffin.
Not to be excluded from this lineup of escape artists, Daniil Medvedev saved multiple set points against Vasek Pospisil and won a tiebreaker in which he had trailed. Medvedev was barking at himself for most of the first set, but he steadied his game when it mattered, and Pospisil missed a crucial (and easy) volley to give the Russian a lifeline.
Medvedev once again stole a set — he did this at the U.S. Open in the first set against Stan Wawrinka. He stole sets against Feliciano Lopez and Grigor Dimitrov at that same tournament. He came back from the dead to pull off a stunning comeback against Novak Djokovic in Cincinnati.
The insane run of results Medvedev produced in summer has carried over into autumn. The notion that Medvedev is here to stay as a regular force on the ATP Tour continues to be affirmed with each new event he plays.
I am not trying to throw a parade for Medvedev as a result of beating Vasek Pospisil, nor am I saying that Medvedev is guaranteed to be a top-tier force on tour next year. However, I am pointing out that if you were looking for a letdown or other signs of erosion in Club Med, they aren’t emerging, at least not yet.
That is the simple and short-term story to draw from his match against Pospisil, who clobbered the ball and often put Medvedev on his heels.
Medvedev’s barking was related to the awful sun-and-shadow conditions for an early-afternoon match in Shanghai. It is very hard to see the ball coming out of the shadows at the north end of the court.
The fact that Medvedev kept his wits about him and absorbed a solid performance from Pospisil is the kind of win which marks an elite player. Federer — stealer of a set against Goffin on Thursday — knows that reality well. Tsitsipas’s autumnal revival continues due to the ability to dig out a win when not everything went his way.
Daniil Medvedev will continue to make his name a central — not peripheral — part of the conversation in men’s tennis if he continues to relentlessly steal sets against the run of play. Great players forge great seasons by doing that in the moments when they are vulnerable.
Club Med finds a way to be relaxed in the midst of various storms. It is impossible to ignore as Daniil prepares for Fabio Fognini, a supremely stormy player, in the Shanghai quarterfinals.
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