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Nadal snatches victory from the jaws of defeat

Miracle man: Rafael Nadal celebrates his comeback victory against Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Finals in London
Miracle man: Rafael Nadal celebrates his comeback victory against Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Finals in London

By Andy Sims

Rafael Nadal won a "one in 1,000" match after coming from 5-1 and match point down to sink Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Finals and boost his bid to finish the year as World No.1.

In a rematch of their marathon US Open final of September, which Nadal won in five, the Spaniard looked on the brink of elimination as Medvedev broke his serve twice at the start of the third set.

But at 5-1 down, Nadal wriggled out of match point against with a cute drop shot, and hot-headed Russian Medvedev promptly unravelled.

The 23-year-old began sarcastically applauding his coaching team as Nadal hauled back game after game, edging the match ominously towards a tie-break.

Nadal duly got on the board at London's 02 by wrapping up a dramatic 6-7 (3) 6-3 7-6 (4 ) victory in two hours 44 minutes.

"Today is one of these days that one time out of 1,000 you lose this match, and it happened today," said Nadal.

"I'm very happy for that, and very sorry for him, honestly, because to lose a match like this is tough, and it's painful.

"I feel very sorry for Daniil. He's a good guy, I think, and anyway, he should be very proud about all the things that he's doing.

"At 5-1, in that moment, what you think is probably in five minutes you are in the locker room, because that's the more normal thing.

"I played a great point, and then I was able to save that game. Even with 5-2 is so difficult to think about comeback against a player like Daniil. But at 5-3, of course I started to believe, because being only one break away, why not? I need to be there. I need to create the moment and I need to put the pressure.

"I created that pressure on him. And then of course he made couple of mistakes, no? But I think I played a good tie-break, too."

The win means Novak Djokovic has to win the title in order to have any chance of overhauling Nadal at the top of the rankings, making the Serbian's winner-takes-all clash with Roger Federer all the more mouth-watering.

Nadal, who was off colour as he slumped in straight sets to Alexander Zverev in his first round-robin match, now faces Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas as he bids to reach the last-four.

Meanwhile, Andy Murray has had a glimpse into a possible life after tennis over the last few weeks and it is one he is keen to avoid.

Murray has been back at his Surrey home following the birth of his third child last month, which came less than a week after his 2019 season ended in style by picking up a first title since his career-saving hip surgery.

That win in Antwerp capped off a successful four-week stint back on the ATP Tour, but the Scot picked up a niggle in his elbow.

That meant, other than an endless cycle of changing nappies and feeding following the arrival of his son Teddy, Murray did not do any training and, as a result, put on the best part of a stone in weight.

Chocolate biscuits, it turns out, are his vice, as well as sweets and cakes from family celebrations, and it left Murray heavier than he ever has been before.

"I didn't do anything for 12 days, literally nothing," Murray, who has launched the AMC clothing range with sportswear brand Castore, said.

"I got up to my heaviest weight in my career probably. My elbow was pretty sore afterwards so I needed to take a break because of that.

"I'd be on my own downstairs with chocolate biscuits and stuff. I was 88.5 kilos and I'm usually 84."

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