Rafael Nadal gave himself a ‘one in 1000’ chance of claiming an unlikely comeback win over Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Finals overnight.
The Spanish superstar had won a close first set but dropped the second, and Medvedev had been on a tear since.
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Nadal was facing a match point, down 1-5, when he gave himself an outside shot at coming back.
In doing so, he once again proved himself a champion, rattling off five straight games before two errors from Medvedev in the tiebreak handed him a memorable 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory.
“Today is one of those days that one out of 1,000 you win and it happened today,” Nadal said.
“(facing match point) In that moment, what you think is probably in five minutes you are in the locker room, because that’s the more normal thing. In that moment, you play with not much pressure because you are almost lost.”
Despite a wobbly performance against Alexander Zverev earlier in the week, Nadal said the abdominal strain that forced his retirement from the Paris Masters was in the rear-view mirror.
Nadal said it felt good to put the Zverev loss behind him.
“I have been playing a better level of tennis than the first day in general terms,” Nadal said.
“Then to win this match is a combination of a lot of things: luck, some mistakes of Daniil, some good moments by myself at the end.”
Unlikely Nadal comeback sends fans into frenzy
Nadal’s victory tightened his grip on the end of year world no.1 rank, with only Novak Djokovic in position to challenge him.
The Serbian star faces a massive match against Roger Federer to progress beyond the pool stage of the ATP finals, while Nadal has a less taxing run ahead of him.
While there is plenty of tantalising tennis to come, fans on Twitter were still gushing about Nadal’s insane comeback.
Daniil Medvedev did a lot of disintegrating to lose that match and a 1-5, third-set lead but there is no denying the fact that Rafael Nadal is an absolute WARRIOR— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) November 13, 2019
6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-6 (4)#ATPFinals
Wow.— José Morgado (@josemorgado) November 13, 2019
From 1-5 30-40 down, Rafael Nadal fights back for 5-5 in the 3rd.
This is happening!
This is insane! One can never ever give up on Rafa!— Alexandra (@Aleaki) November 13, 2019