Rafael Nadal is once again a US Open champion but had to fight off an almighty comeback from Daniil Medvedev in the Russian’s first grand slam final. What looked to be an easy night eventually ended with a 7-5 6-3 5-7 4-6 6-4 victory for the Spaniard, adding this US Open to his previous ones in 2010, 2013 and 2017. He joins an elite group of players with at least four US Opens, adding his name to a list of Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe.
Many first time slam final competitors have wilted on the biggest stage against the Big Four and it looked like the same was going to happen in this one two as Nadal rushed into a two sets and a break lead. It was then that the Russian sprung into life and showed why he looks primed to take over Novak Djokovic’s mantle once the current No.1 winds down, remaining in punishing rallies with Nadal throughout almost 5 hours of play in the match. Medvedev took the third and fourth to take it to a decider with Nadal in real danger of moving to 206-2 in grand slams when he held a 2-0 sets lead.
Medvedev had three opportunities at 1-1 and failed to take any of them but pushed on, about to move to being just three games from a first slam title at 2-2 and 40-0. It was there things went wrong for him as he gave up his serve from this point, with Nadal adding an insurance break to compound the misery following a Medvedev medical timeout. The Russian would still continue to fight and would earn one of the breaks back and get the opportunity to tie it at 5-5, failing to do so. Nadal took his third championship point before falling to the ground in celebration of another momentous victory.
For Nadal, he looks primed to be the year end No.1 if he plays much in the late part of the season. Novak Djokovic has a whole host of points to defend while Nadal has 0 and a hefty lead in the race already. While his dominant victories at the French Open are just as famous, it is matches like this that are just as meaningful to the Spaniard. “All these special matches, if these kind of matches in the final of Grand Slam makes the match more special, no? The way that the match became very dramatic at the end, that makes this day unforgettable, part of my history of this sport.” he said. “Just very happy. This trophy means everything to me today. Personal satisfaction the way that I resisted all these tough moments is very high.”
“First two sets, I was kind of close, but at the same time Rafa was a beast out there. I felt like everything I do, he has an answer. So I was continuing to try something, to find something new. I was going to the net sometimes, doing some dropshots, some slice. I tried everything.” Medvedev said on the ominous task he had to face. “As I say, these, I have to say, three guys (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic), they are legends. The way they’re playing tennis is just unbelievable. When you are out there, tactically it’s tougher than against anybody else.”
Medvedev may have been a loser on this occasion but this summer will give him a huge boost in confidence when it comes to playing in the big matches. He made the final in all of his North American hard court tournaments and picked up a Masters 1000 title in the process. He will also be in the top 5 this week, picking up a career high ranking. The Russian, once a volatile hothead, looks a lot more composed and clearly has the game style to maintain a spot at the top of the men’s game for a long time if he continues to improve.