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Daniil Medvedev has triumphed in a thrilling battle against late-entry Italian Jannick Sinner in a ATP Finals classic, but the enigmatic Russian was up to his old tricks as he taunted the crowd as the battle became fiery.
World No.2 Medvedev, already through to the last four, appeared to be heading for a crushing victory over Sinner when he romped through the first set 6-0.
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But Sinner, who replaced Italian compatriot Berrettini in the draw, changed tactics in the second set and delighted the raucous home crowd when his attacking net play allowed him to draw level at one-set-all.
The Russian had a chance to break Sinner to go 3-1 up in the third set but instead dropped his own serve to hand the Italian a 4-2 lead.
Sinner, after being broken straight back, squandered two match points in the tie break before Medvedev thundered a backhand down the line to clinch victory after two hours and 32 minutes.
However, in the tiebreak, Medvedev turned up his trolling.
Medvedev drew the ire of the US Open crowd in the past for mocking them when going for his opponent.
And the Russian took issue with raucous Italian crowd going for his young Italian opponent.
During the match, Medvedev crossed paths with Sinner and appeared to yawn.
In the tiebreak and facing match point, Medvedev put his hands to his ears as if to gesture he couldn't' hear them.
He then goaded the crowd to keep cheering for his opponent.
Moments later, Medvedev saved the match point and closed out the match.
The Russian embraced Sinner who appeared devastated after the loss.
However, fans took aim at Medvedev for his antics.
— Oleg S. (@AnnaK_4ever) November 18, 2021
No. Again an incredible match, especially at the end, but Daniil always find his way (while taunting the crowd btw) pic.twitter.com/fGxusQTooe
— Did Daniil Medvedev Celebrate? (@DidMedCelebrate) November 18, 2021
Medvedev giving the fans full value in Turin, even in a dead rubber. Went 6-4 in the 3d to beat Hurkacz. Went 7-6 (6) in 3d to beat Zverev. Goes 7-6 (8) in 3d to beat Sinner & crowd in a match that as the French like to say "counted for butter" (don't ask me, ask the French) pic.twitter.com/mzuKkW2sZg
— Christopher Clarey 🇺🇸 🇫🇷 🇪🇸 (@christophclarey) November 18, 2021
I don’t get why Medvedev was shocked by the crowd reaction and therefore chose to yawn at Sinner. It was Sinner’s literal home town like he is from Northern Italy. It should not have been surprising who they rooted for - bad move. #NittoATPFinals
— AuntyBac (@auntybacterial) November 18, 2021
Yeah the crowd is usually disrespectful when they have a favorite. What Medvedev did was disrespectful to Sinner too not just the crowd. It wasn't Sinner's fault
— Victor Ajayi (@blackispeg) November 18, 2021
Medvedev cheering on the crowd cheering against him is my favorite tennis thing ever
— Jason Weinberger (@weiny38) November 18, 2021
Medvedev is a bully😂. He would have lost this match if the crowd didn’t annoy/irritate him. He intentionally gave Sinner hope then took it away. The smile at the end says it all
— Big Daddy J (@MrNuffi) November 18, 2021
Is Medvedev pissed with the Italian crowd? Hahaha
— Tennis World (Mike) (@secondserves) November 18, 2021
Disrespectful the italian crowd, medvedev didn't do anything
— Luis Carlos (@Luisscarloss7) November 18, 2021
Never seen Jannik Sinner show as much emotion as he just did in that tiebreaker with Medvedev. Would love to see more of that from him when he’s not playing in front of an Italian crowd
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) November 18, 2021
Djokovic sets up Zverev semi-final clash
Zverev will face Green Group winner Djokovic on Saturday for the fifth time this year.
The 24-year-old German has been beaten by Djokovic three times this year, including in the last four of the US Open, but he defeated the Serbian in the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics.
"I have played Novak in every single big hard-court tournament this year," the world number three said.
"We are making a habit of playing in the later rounds at big tournaments. It is going to be an entertaining one."
Zverev was looking to make a statement in Turin, having won via a retirement in his first match against injured Matteo Berrettini before losing in three sets to Medvedev on Tuesday.
The 2018 champion certainly made his intentions clear in the first set against Hurkacz, breaking the Pole in the first game and racing to a 4-0 lead. It took Zverev only 27 minutes to seal the set 6-2.
In the second set Hurkacz hit a number of wayward forehands to hand Zverev a crucial break to lead 5-4, from which the German served out the match to set up a clash with Djokovic.
"Today was a tough match mentally because I needed to win, so I was 100 per cent focused," said Zverev.
"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."
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