Nadal, the world No. 2 from Spain, won his last title on the surface all the way back in 2005 and has only won two of his 86 ATP titles indoors.
The ATP Finals remains the biggest title to have eluded the 20-time Grand Slam champion during his illustrious career but this was a particularly painful defeat.
Serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set, he was broken to love and it proved to be the spark that ignited a relentless Medvedev comeback.
Nadal followed Novak Djokovic out of the tournament after the world No. 1 lost to Medvedev’s final opponent Dominic Thiem.
It’s the first time the pair have lost on the same day since Indian Wells in 2017 and they have both lost to Medvedev and Thiem during this tournament.
No player has featured at this tournament more times (10) than Nadal without winning the title but he refused to blame failing to serve out the match on pressure.
‘I don’t know. I think I achieved enough to not find an excuse about the pressure,’ said Nadal, who denied he had any physical issues in the back end of the match.
‘I know I won enough matches and enough tournaments in an even more difficult situation than this one and even in more important matches than tonight. So I don’t feel that way.
‘I feel I played a bad game. Of course you are nervous to win the match. But not me. Everybody. Is normal to have the tension. I think he played some good points and I make a couple of mistakes.
‘And that’s it, and then he played a good tiebreak. Yeah. And I played, I should be winning my serve in the third, the one that I lost. I had easy volley to close the game.
‘Small details makes a big difference. Just well done for him and not enough good for me.’
Looking ahead to 2021, Nadal added: ‘My goal is always the same: to go to every tournament and to give myself a chance to compete well and to try to win it.
‘That’s the goal of every year. My motivation has been always the same. Next year gonna be an important year. I hope to be ready to fight for the things that I want to fight. I’m going to work hard during the off-season to be ready for the beginning.’
Medvedev, who can become the first player since Djokovic to win the title in his second appearance at the ATP Finals having lost every match on his debut, will look to avenge a semi-finals loss to Thiem at the US Open and is aware just how tough that will be.
‘At 5-4 in the second set I decided to change some mall things and start going for things a little more. I had to change and it worked really well,’ said the Russian during his on-court interview.
‘Dominic is playing amazing right now. I practised with him and we had good rallies, a really good level of tennis.’
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