Novak Djokovic made it three wins from three in the ATP Finals round robin as he battled back against Daniil Medvedev in Turin.
Djokovic was already guaranteed to top the group and play Taylor Fritz in Saturday’s semi-final but dug deep to remain unbeaten, edging out a 6-3 6-7(5) 7-6(2) victory in overtime. three hours.
The 35-year-old was struggling late in the second and third sets and Medvedev served for the match at 5-4 in the decider, but Djokovic found a way back.
“It’s a big relief,” said Djokovic, chasing a sixth title at the season-ending tournament to match Roger Federer’s record. “Daniil and I have fought in the past and I knew coming into the game today it would be his last game of the season and he wouldn’t want to end the season with a defeat.
“I started well, I had a chance in the second set, I had some break points but they played very well in the important areas. They played very fast. I didn’t feel good in the third set, I struggled a lot. It’s a battle. And it’s a fight.
“To be able to find the last drop of strength to come back … at 4-5 (in the third set) I was able to read his serve and wait well and I found myself in a good position.”
Medvedev – who won the title in 2020 and also reached the final last year – leaves Turin having lost all three of his matches in the group by deciding breaks, while Djokovic admitted the tournament had taken a toll on him.
“Well, it was just fatigue from a tough fight. That’s all I can say. I mean, there was no illness,” Djokovic told reporters. “Everyone has a day when they struggle physically. For me it was today.
“Of course, the opponent likes to see you down, and he’s trying to control the meetings, he’s trying to get ahead, which was similar to what’s happening today.”
Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas will face Russian Rublev later on Friday, with the winner facing Norway’s Casper Ruud in the playoffs.
In doubles, Britain’s Neal Skupski and Dutchman Wesley Koolhof kept their semi-final hopes alive with victory over Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek but need Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic to beat Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis to make the last four.