9 Things I Think I Thought About The 2020 ATP Finals And Daniil Medvedev
by Sean Randall | November 24th, 2020, 12:25 am
  • 10 Comments

The 2020 season is over, here are some closing thoughts on the ATP Finals and Daniil Medvedev’s big win.

1. MEDVEDEV’S NOVEMBER TO REMEMBER
I picked Daniil Medvedev at the start of the event only because he had won the Paris Masters. The guy had a lousy year to coming into November — 0 Top 10 wins, 0 tournament finals — but as we saw in 2019, when the guy gets going he really gets going.

I thought with Novak Djokovic’s head not right, Rafael Nadal not having a great record in London, Alexander Zverev dealing with a domestic abuse issue and the lack of anyone else standing out, I figured Medvedev could sneak it out. And he did just that.

Unfortunately for Medvedev, and his 10-match win streak, there are no more events and we don’t know when the next one will be!

2. THIEM LETS ANOTHER ONE SLIP AWAY
Credit to Dominic Thiem for making these big finals, but the Austrian seems to have an issue in these top tier title matches.

He was lucky to have won in New York. Blew leads at the ATP Finals last year and in Melbourne, and Sunday was up a set and in control until a couple costly misses in that second set on break points. That took some air out and Medvedev pushed to a breaker, ran off seven points and then got another break in the third to seal it.

Good thing for Thiem is won that first Masters at the 2019 Indian Wells event over Roger Federer and got that US Open title, so the monkey is off his back. But I feel there’s something going on with him when he gets into a big-time final.

And if you look at his finals the last 18 months, all of them were tough, tight matches. I guess easy wins in big matches are just not in his DNA.

3. BIG 3 ERA ENDING?
Despite a 5th straight year coming away empty in London, I’m no where near ready to shovel dirt on the Big 3.

Roger Federer plans his return in January, and who knows. Last time he took an extended break he ended up winning another Australian Open!

Djokovic will be favored in every hard court match to start the year in Australia where he is nearly unbeatable. And I think a month or two off the court will help the Serb clear his head and come to terms with that US Open default.

And I think Nadal will still be dominant on the clay…for one last year.

4. BE THANKFUL, BE GRATEFUL
Six months ago in May, with the pandemic raging, it did not look good that any tennis would be played let alone two Slams, two Masters, the ATP Finals and a number of other events.

So even though our favorites may not have won, we should be thankful there was tennis at all.

5. THE ZVEREV ISSUE
I didn’t expect big things last week from Alexander Zverev because of his domestic abuse case which is hanging over him.

So far, the girlfriend has accused the German star of abuse. But no action has been taken.

I guess until the girlfriend brings forth charges, he’ll stay in limbo. But the ATP or German Federation should have taken a harder line and maybe told Zverev to sit out until there is a resolution. It just doesn’t look good for a star player to continue to play while there are substantial accusations in the public domain.

6. TOUR GOING ITALIAN
Funny how it works that as soon as the ATP Finals are set to move to Italy (in Turin), the Italians have a decent future in the men’s game with established Top 10 threat Jannik Sinner and another teen in 18-year-old Lorenzo Musetti, both of whom could one day play in the event during the 5-year run in Turin (I think Sinner will make the field in 2022).

But it was a great 12-year, near flawless span in London. Turin has a tough act to follow.

7. BRYANS LEAVE VOID IN TENNIS
With the American great Bryan twins officially retiring earlier in the year, the two groups in the field were appropriately named after Bob and Mike.

The exit also left the dour open. Wide open, and look what happened.

Incredibly, a team that had never won a title together before, Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic, took home the top prize at the ATP Finals. Imagine a player winning his first singles title at the Finals. That’s what happened.

It’s pure madness on the doubles tour.

8. WHO’S NEXT
So with Medvedev and Thiem battling in London, and earlier Thiem and Zverev in the US Open final, you can certainly see the makings of an even bigger surge next year for the younger guys. I think the Big 3’s 15-year stranglehold over the Top 2 rankings ends at some point in 2021, assuming the rankings start rolling like normal.

Medvedev and Thiem are the top guys. Zverev is in there. Stefanos Tsitsipas I do wonder if he’s hit a temporary ceiling — maybe needs a high profile coach — and there are guys like Andrey Rublev, Sinner and the Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

There’s also another lower tier in which I’ll put Karen Khachanov, Matteo Berrettini, Ugo Humbert, Reilly Opelka, Hubert Hurkacz, Borna Coric, Taylor Fritz and Alex De Minaur.

I think next year you might start to see some separation as Medvedev, Thiem, Zverev, the Canadians and Sinner keep moving up. Shapovalov and FAA are still three years younger than Medvedev, and if they learn some defensive skills like Thiem has done, watch out. Those two, to me, have the greatest upside.

9. 2021?
The problem for the young guys and for everyone is what will happen with 2021 as this pandemic continues.

The good news is tennis was able to prove it could hold successful, safe events.

The problem is the virus isn’t going away.

We do have a vaccine(s) coming, so there is hope. But in the near-term, there’s still a lot of uncertainty with the schedule and when 2021 will exactly begin.

Let’s hope soon!


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10 Comments for 9 Things I Think I Thought About The 2020 ATP Finals And Daniil Medvedev

chrisford1 Says:

First, thank you Sean for keeping this Site going in a challenging year for the sport when just last March, we were all wondering if tennis was “done in” for the year by the Wuhan virus.

I’d add a few things to your fine list, and a comment on what you said on Thiem and Zverev.

*Just great when you see a new face at the ATP Championships and the ‘new’ face is a longtime player who doesn’t get the titles or the glory the stars do, but who plays fine tennis year in and year out. Someone that will always have that career highlight – one or two years when they were recognized as one of the best, a Top 10 player invited to vie for a championship. Diego Schwartzman this time. Goffin, Tipsarevic etc., in other years.
*Thiem will never cop this excuse, but I will for him. Though Medvedev didn’t have it especially easy in his semi, Thiem fought a huge draining battle against Djokovic and it took a little out of him.
*Both semis were outstanding, worthy of the 4 players and worthy of the last year of London.
*Well done to the Brits on 12 years of stellar success with the running of the ATP Championships.
*With Sasha Zverev, right now as I see it, he is in one of those “she said, he said” situations. No evidence other than that, as far as I know. I don’t know German law or what authority the German Tennis Federation has over an independent pro athlete that is not in their “system” anymore – has. It would be hard to see the ATP or WAPA trying to suspend the guy only on a accusation, as well. And apparently she stayed with him after the lover’s spat and whatever happened – until he left her for another model.
It just wouldn’t be fair to Zverev to wreck his livelihood in the absence of charges and a determination of innocence or guilt (if charged) that could take a long time to hash out. Maybe someone familiar with how Germany handles these lover’s fracases can shed light on it. Or if it goes into a civil lawsuit, or if Zverev gives her a fat check to go away with no admission of guilt.
* For all the trials and tribulations of the Serbian Soap Opera that is Novak Djokovic, he still ended the year as #1, with 12,030 points for gawd’s sake! Rafa has 9,850 and Domi 9,125 at the end of the year. Oh, to be a deeply troubled athlete!!
*Rafa needs to get a partial refund on his hair plug surgery.


Wog Boy Says:

CF1, agree about Zverev. I am fed up with those cases popping up like a mushrooms after the rain without any evidence and destroying peoples lives.
I think Zverev is lucky that he doesn’t live in America when it comes to this kind of accusations.

Before I give you example I want to tell you that I am not a catholic, as the matter of fact I am very much on the other side of the fence when it comes to Church of Rome and don’t have much nice things to say about the same.

I’ll give you example of Australian Cardinal George Pell who was accused of abusing 2 boys during a service in Cathedral (in the full view of parishioners?!) without any proper evidence and he spent time in prison and his career was destroyed before he was acquitted by full bench of High Court, 7 judges voted 7 : 0, all of them voted and acquitted Cardinal Pell and he was released from the prison.
At the moment when he was arrested he was the 3rd most powerful person in Vatican in charge of finance and he has found all sorts of corruption, so the beliefs are that he was set up by Vatican itself by using the most corrupted police force in Australia which is Victorian police.
I’ll give you the link of his interview just a few days after the release from prison where kept such dignity and not grudges, not at all, he blew me away with his composure, wisdom and forgiveness and I’ll repeat, I am not catholic.
Have a look please, it’s worth watching, trust me:

https://youtu.be/3OX2aUvG51I

Tell me your opinion, please.


John Smith Says:

3. BIG 3 ERA ENDING?
“Despite a 5th straight year coming away empty in London, I’m no where near ready to shovel dirt on the Big 3.”

8. WHO’S NEXT
“I think the Big 3’s 15-year stranglehold over the Top 2 rankings ends at some point in 2021, assuming the rankings start rolling like normal.”

Make up your mind!


chrisford1 Says:

WOG Boy – I winced when I linked because it was over 50 minutes – but I did watch it, and it was worthwhile. I’ve watched Andrew Bolt interviews in the past, and bringing up what happened to Cardinal Pell dwells on matters that go far past Australia, the Vatican.
I believe my opinions on the matter are pretty similar to yours. We are seeing more and more of people with ‘culture war” political agendas targeting people belonging to groups that are unwilling to fight back. I don’t think TennisX is a place to chat about this at length. But I hope to chat with you in the future.

Some tennis news: Former NYC mayor David Dinkins died Tuesday. A pretty awful mayor, but a super tennis fan. He was the one that kept the USO in NYC by pushing through a 99-year lease and helping bring in capital for a total renovation of the site. If people wonder why two stadiums are named as they are – David Dinkins. He was a rabid fan of Arthur Ashe and jazz. So we got Ashe Stadium vs. it named for a more accomplished pro, and Singer Bowl renamed for a trumpet player who as far as anyone knows never touched a tennis racket in his life or went to a match – Louis Armstrong.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Sean, great write up, and CF1 as well.


Wog Boy Says:

Agree CF1, that was much bigger than Australia and the major players are much bigger than Australia too, similar to your elections, that was much bigger than America and the major players behind the scenes are much bigger too.
If Americans think that they are the ones that have chosen the dude that needs full time carer as their President they are very mistaken and naive.


Colin Says:

Wog Boy, I don’t understand what you are trying to say.
‘If Americans think they are the ones who have chosen…’
But they are. They just voted for him. Or do you seriously believe all the stuff he spouts about fraud? He is the one who is mistaken and naïve, who lives in his own reality and could do with a carer – for his mind, not his body.
As a fellow Republican once said, if his Daddy had not financed him heavily, Trump would be selling watches in New York.
I don’t like Hilary Clinton (or her husband), but she would have made a vastly better President than Trump. For one thing she would have addressed the healthcare problems that leave Americans (even middle class white ones)so far down the rankings in terms of life expectancy.


Django Says:

Colin
USA still has Obamacare and it sucks.


lylenubbins Says:

Nice write up Sean, thanks for all you do.

Re covid, the PCR tests they use to find the “cases” are run at a rate that is getting positives where people are not really sick. That is why the “surge” in “cases” is not translating into many new deaths or hospitalizations. I hope that knowledge gets around because in my opinion covid can be managed like a normal virus. Also, it’s insane for healthy athletes to have to mask up for interviews as if they are sick.


Wog Boy Says:

Hi Colin,

Glad to hear from you, stay safe.


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