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Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, returns to Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, during the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Mason, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, returns to Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, during the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Mason, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)|Associated Press
Tennis

Western & Southern Men's Final: Abrams picks Daniil Medvedev vs David Goffin in a Sunday afternoon match from Cincinnati

The match is scheduled for 4 pm EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Western and Southern Open

Cincinnati, OH

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Men’s Sunday Final

Daniil Medvedev over David Goffin

When the Western and Southern Open began six days ago, who would have believed that, in a tournament that boasted every one of the Top Ten players, the final would feature Russia’s Daniil Medvedev and Belgium’s David Goffin? I think when the draw was made most would have predicted a final of either Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer to take on Rafa Nadal for the title of this very important Masters 1000 event. But, as things sometimes do, the tournament took on a life of it’s own from the moment the draw was made, with Nadal, the 2nd seed, pulling out from exhaustion before the first ball could be struck.

Right on his heels, came the withdrawals of both Dominic Thiem and Fabio Fognini. Once tournament play began, one by one the seeds in Nadal’s half of the draw started to drop. Marin Cilic and Borno Coric were out, followed by Kei Nishikori and Alex de Minaur. Then Andy Murray and Sascha Zverev lost. Soon, Frances Tiafoe and Reilley Opelka joined the others on the sidelines, and the bottom half of the draw was left with just Roberto Bautista Agut, and Richard Gasquet in one quarter and David Goffin and Yoshi Nishioka in the other.

Up in the top half of the draw, things started out more conventionally, but soon the draw was bereft of Nicholas Basilashvili and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Next, John Isner and Stan Wawrinka were gone. And they were quickly followed by Roger Federer and Karen Khachanov. Soon, the quarters featured Djokovic versus Lucas Pouille and Daniil Medvedev against Andrey Rublev.

So after The Joker beat Pouille and Medvedev took out Rublev, that left Djokovic to battle Medvedev for a right to play for the title. In the bottom half, Gasquet knocked off Bautista Agut and Goffin got a walkover from Nishioka. Goffin promptly beat Gasquet on Saturday afternoon with nary a problem, and awaited the evening’s winner between Medvedev and The Joker.

In what can be described as both a thriller and an unexpected upset, Medvedev won two sets in a row after being outclassed in the first set by the world #1. Medvedev rode his big serve, his giant forehand, and his will to win, on to a victory, when he hit 16 aces and had 36 winners. Nole started out by winning the first set in about a half-an-hour, but couldn’t recover as Medvedev started using his first serve as both first and second offerings after it was clear that Djokovic was simply swatting away all of the Russian’s second serves for clean winners.

Once Medvedev served hard serves on both first and second serves, the tide turned, and the Russian stared gaining confidence as he won his serves and began returning The Joker’s serve with booming cross-court forehands. This put Djokovic off balance, and the match was never the same. Medvedev gained the upper hand, and took the third set 6-3, as he broke Djokovic for the second time in that set to take the match in which The Joker was the heavy favorite.

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