The Spaniard steps into the penultimate round of the ATP Finals for the sixth time, in search of his third final (2010, 2013) and the only prestigious title missing from his record. Nadal did what he had to do: serve well, send with his right hand and make no mistakes, even a double fault that cost him the second set.

It was the Greek’s first break ball and he didn’t even need to win it. The 20 ‘big’ champion opened the door to a third set of madness, nerves and a lot of tension. Nadal corrected that moment of doubt, in an exchange of breaks, and closed the door before the Tsitsipas believed it.

For much of the game, the world number two slid down the track, as required by the surface that has complicated the most in his career and also a tournament with the best. The last day of the London 2020 Group was more of a quarter-final clash: the winner, to the semi-finals with Medvedev waiting.

Tsitsipas, with the first turn of serve, marked the aggressive tone that the clash would have. The Greek won well in his turn of service and the Spanish also put quality at the start. In the seventh game came the first errors, from Tsitsipas. The Greek saved two balls from ‘break’ but again doubted again two games later.

With a double fault the Greek gave the ‘break’ and Nadal closed the sleeve next (6-4). The Spaniard continued to squeeze the rest but found Tsitsipas first serves and stability with which to remain standing. Nadal verged on perfection, barely giving up points with his serve and in the most decisive he fell into the trap.

Manacor’s failed in two rises to the net and the Greek took advantage of the loophole to equalize the game (4-6). The current champion’s blow brought a tense third set, without a dominating serve, until Nadal made it 3-1. That’s where Tsitsipas went, failing in search of another opportunity, while the Spaniard strengthened his control en route to the semifinals five years later.