Djokovic pulled out his own big serves in the important moments to reach the semifinals for the ninth time, notably in the tiebreaker when he recovered from a 2-0 deficit.
“Contrary to the last match against Daniil,” said Djokovic, referring to a straight-set loss to Medvedev on Wednesday, “I managed to find the right shots at the right time.”
Djokovic broke for 2-0 lead when Zverev double-faulted on the second break point. He saved two break points at 4-2 before clinching the set with a backhand down the line as he closed in on the net following a serve out wide.
Zverev’s groundstrokes and powerful serve posed more problems for Djokovic in the second set, and the German gained an early advantage in the tiebreaker by reaching a drop shot before hitting an unreturnable smash to lead 2-0.
Djokovic then won five of the next six points and, on his first match point, found the baseline with a penetrating forehand which Zverev could slice only into the net on the stretch.
“In the tiebreaker, again I served well when I needed to close out the match,” Djokovic said.
Thiem, the U.S. Open champion, won a third-set tiebreaker to beat Djokovic in group play last year, helping to eliminate the Serb before the semifinals.
“It was really a thrilling match,” Djokovic said, “so hopefully we can have another great match, this time with a different outcome.”
Medvedev hit 31 winners against Schwartzman and broke the Argentine three times.
The Russian has gone 3-0 in group play after going 0-3 on debut last year.
“I was playing great in previous matches and it’s always good to stay undefeated for the confidence,” Medvedev said.
Nadal has a 3-0 record against him but the last two matches were battles: Nadal won their 2019 U.S. Open final in five sets, and came from 5-1 down in the last set of their ATP Finals group match a year ago.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” Medvedev said.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports