LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (NOVEMBER 21, 2020) (ATP MEDIA/IMG - NO RESALES, NO ARCHIVE)
1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REPORTER ASKING RAFA NADAL:
"Rafa, a tough match tonight, did you feel as the match went longer, you just lacked a little bit of energy towards the end and that's why Daniil was the winner tonight?"
RAFA NADAL REPLYING:
"No. I don't think that way. At the beginning of the match, he was better than me, I was able to save my serves with troubles, but then I played well to have the break and then to close the set, and in the second, a little bit the same story at the beginning, but at the end of the set I was playing a little bit better than him, and in the 5-4, I think he played a good game and I didn't. I played a bad game, that's it, I had a big opportunity, I lost a big opportunity, well done to him, he's playing great, I wish him all the best."
2. WHITE FLASH
3. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REPORTER ASKING RAFA NADAL:
"Are there any circumstances where you wouldn't travel to Melbourne to play in the Aussie Open next year?"
RAFA NADAL REPLYING:
"I don't know what the situation is going to be, yet, now. We need to wait about what the government there in Victoria say. We can't do much from ATP position, just wait and we have nobody to say what they feel is better for his country, so we just need to be patient and accept the situation that we are facing that is difficult for everyone, so we need to be flexible to understand the situation and to find a way to play as many tournaments as possible next year, to continue with The Tour, to try to help the tournaments, to help the players, the lower-ranked players to keep having jobs, and at the same time all the staff that are living from our sport, not only the tennis players, all the people who are around. So, let's try to be flexible in all ways - players, tournaments. It's a special situation, hopefully with the vaccine, that ends soon and we can come back at least to a close to a normal, in a couple of months, but now is a difficult situation and just hopefully the situation gets better and we can come back to a normal Tour."
4. WHITE FLASH
5. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NOVAK DJOKOVIC SAYING:
"Well, I mean... What he did from 0-4 in the third set tiebreaker was just unreal. I mean, I don't think that I played bad, actually, I made both of my first serves, actually all of my first serves. 4-1, 4-2, 4-5, 4-6, I made all first serves. He just crashed the ball, everything went in from both corners and he played a couple of very short slices, you know, angles... Yes, I mean, what can you do, I mean, I was in the driver's position at 4-0, I thought I was very close to winning it, and he just took it away from me, but he deserved it, because he just went for it and everything worked."
6. WHITE FLASH
7. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NOVAK DJOKOVIC SAYING:
"You know, it's disappointing to finish the season with a loss like this, but at the same time, you know, I enjoy competing, I enjoy travelling and doing what I love, so let's see what 2021 brings, I'm not sure. Obviously, Australia is around the corner in a way, but no one can enter before January, it's going to be a bit longer pre-season I think for all of us, wherever we are based, and let's see it from there."
STORY: Rafa Nadal's dream of a first ATP Finals title and Novak Djokovic's quest for a record-equalling sixth vanished in defeats by Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem respectively in two seismic semi-finals on Saturday (November 21).
As the curtain comes down on London's 12 years as host of the ATP Tour's prestigious season-ender, it would have been fitting for Nadal and Djokovic to face off for the 57th time in their glittering careers.
But times are a-changing, or so it seems, and Medvedev and Thiem had not read the script.
Nadal, seeking the one major pot missing from his vast collection of silverware, must have seen the door creaking open when Thiem produced a staggering fightback to beat Djokovic 7-5 6-7(10) 7-6(5) in a classic contest lasting almost three hours.
He had beaten Medvedev in each of their three meetings, including a memorable U.S. Open final last year.
It seemed like he had exhausted the wily Russian's box of tricks when he served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but Medvedev, 10 years his junior at 24, stormed back to win 3-6 7-6(4) 6-3.
Whatever happens on Sunday (November 22) it will mean a fifth consecutive first-time winner of the tournament.
To put world number four Medvedev's win into perspective, Nadal had triumphed in the last 71 matches in which he had taken the first set.
"I played a bad game at 5-4, I had a big opportunity, but well played to him," Nadal said.
Earlier in the empty arena, the 27-year-old Thiem saw four match points vanish in the second set tiebreak against Djokovic, one with a nervy double-fault, and it seemed he would pay a heavy price.
Djokovic, who is one short of Roger Federer's titles record at the ATP Finals, led 4-0 in the deciding set tiebreak.
But U.S. Open champion Thiem unleashed a stunning counter-attack to reel off six points, reaching match point with a ripping crosscourt backhand.
Djokovic saved a fifth match point but then floated a defensive forehand long.
"What he did from 0-4 in the tiebreak was just unreal," Djokovic, who won the title in London from 2012-15, told reporters. "He just crashed the ball and everything went in. What can you do?"
The defeats mean that Nadal and Djokovic's 2020 seasons are complete and they are now hoping that the Australian Open will be able to take place in Melbourne which is due to start on January 18. However, current government restrictions mean that players would not be able to arrive in Australia until the beginning of January and would then have to observe a two-week quarantine period, leaving almost no time to prepare for the start of the tournament.
"We just need to be patient and accept the situation that we are facing that is difficult for everyone," said Nadal.
(Production: Mike Brock)