Photo : Peter Power/Tennis Canada
By Max Gao
Two years after losing in the final to Rafael Nadal, No. 1 seed Daniil Medvedev went one better on Canadian soil, producing another masterful performance to defeat Reilly Opelka, 6-4, 6-3, and capture his fourth ATP Masters 1000 title. With this victory, Medvedev became the first Russian champion at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers since Marat Safin in 2000.
Less than 24 hours after rolling past another big server in John Isner, Medvedev was hoping to pick up right where he left off against Opelka. But the top seed quickly found himself under some early pressure as the American jumped out to a 0-40 lead in the fourth game, stepping into the court with the same first-strike tennis that has earned him wins over the likes of Grigor Dimitrov, Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Nevertheless, Medvedev was able to weather the storm, hitting five straight first serves to hold and then proceeding to break in the following game to take a 3-2 lead. Medvedev pressed home his advantage, utilizing flat groundstrokes to trouble Opelka. The 25-year-old also won 93% (13/14) of his first-serve points en route to taking the first set in 38 minutes.
Medvedev would carry this momentum into the second set, where he spent most of his return games camped out behind the Toronto sign and absorbing and redirecting all of Opelka’s firepower. The Russian reeled off nine points in a row midway through the set to break and consolidate his advantage, and he fended off a break point at 3-2 to keep his stranglehold on the championship match. It was only a matter of time until the No. 1 seed, who continuously managed to turn defense into offense on a dime, emerged victorious, breaking for the third time to seal the victory in an hour and 25 minutes.
The World No. 2 and two-time Grand Slam finalist has now won three titles in 2021 and 12 titles in his burgeoning career. He now improves to 4-1 in Masters 1000 finals, winning titles in Cincinnati, Shanghai, Paris and now Toronto.
“With Masters, with Novak [Djokovic] and Rafael [Nadal] playing, it seemed like an untouchable achievement,” Medvedev said in an ATP interview after the match. “Now I have four wins in five finals, which is a good score. I am just happy. I want to achieve more. I am really happy I achieved this in Canada.”