Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev met in the fourth round of the 2023 Indian Wells in what was seen as a blockbuster.
Both players had troubles with injuries last year and so they experienced falls in the ATP Rankings, and therefore, their meeting was possible already before quarterfinal stages. In the past, they played against each other 12 times, with each player winning exactly six matches.
Recently, the two met also at an exhibition event in Saudi Arabia, where Medvedev won in two sets. This time, Zverev was much closer to his best form, but Medvedev was on a 16-match winning streak and he was one of the biggest favourites to win in Indian Wells.
The first set went as expected in a match of two players with big serves. Despite trading a break early in the set, they both then held their service games as the set reached a tie-break. Medvedev couldn't find his footing in the tie-break, as Zverev proved to be a better player, winning it 7-5.
The start of the second set was marked by long games and showcase of a fighting spirit from the former world no. 1. Medvedev faced a total of nine break points, but he saved all of them.
However, soon the match was stopped as the Russian rolled his ankle in the sixth game and needed a medical time out. He consulted the injury with a doctor and told him he never used tapes for rolled ankle before, but tried to continue playing anyway after the doctor taped his ankle.
Medvedev was obviously fighting the hurt ankle and told the doctor that it hurts but he can continue playing. He earned the respect from fans in the Indian Wells Tennis Garden as well as his opponent, who couldn't break the former world no. 1 as the second set reached a tie-break.
The Russian won the tie-break 7-5 and despite limping in between the rallies, he was ready to fight also in the third set.
His fighting spirit soon paid off as Medvedev broke Zverev in the third game. A few games later, Medvedev was serving for the match and could complete a miraculous comeback, but Zverev refused to give up and broke back.
But despite breaking back, Zverev couldn't stay calm under pressure when he faced a break point in the next game and hit a double fault. This time, Medvedev kept the advantage and served it out to eventually win the match 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-5 despite having a rolled ankle.
Although many fans may say that Zverev lost a won match as his opponent was injured, it's important to mention that players themselves often say that it's sometimes even more difficult to play an opponent who is fighting an injury rather than a healthy one.
Injured players must rely on creativity and playing shots that they usually wouldn't play and their playing style changes dramatically. Moreover, mentally, the player knows he's playing against an injured player and that also doesn't help.
While Zverev will want to recover from this loss, Medvedev will want to recover from the ankle injury and focus on his quarterfinal match against the 23rd-seeded Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.