Daniil Medvedev will be hoping to make it two shock champions from two on Sunday when he takes on Rafael Nadal in his first slam final. For Nadal, it would be his fourth in New York and nineteenth overall, leaving him one behind the tally of current leader Roger Federer. Were he to win, Medvedev would be the first 90s born player on the men’s tour to win a slam.
Medvedev’s run to the final has been drama filled from his cramping to incurring the wrath of the crowd but his semi final had none of that as he eased past Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets. The Bulgarian looked the better player for parts of the match but when it really mattered, it was Medvedev who stepped up in the clutch. He saved set point in the first set of the 7-6 6-4 6-3 win and looked far more confident after taking the first set. Medvedev has been on a tear this summer with this being his fourth straight final, having lost in Washington and Montreal before taking the Cincinnati Masters title. “It’s really tough mentally. That’s what I’ve been missing before. Before my best slam result was fourth round. I felt like it’s just so tough to win a five-set match. I knew I was going the right way, I just had to fight for every set, for every point. Didn’t work out before.” He said on what has changed. “But here, this week, everything has worked out. I won a lot of four-set matches, which shows how great mentally I was here, and physically also.”
Matteo Berrettini put up a feisty performance against Nadal early on but after failing to convert set points in the first set, it was all Nadal in the 7-6 6-4 6-1 victory. After some uncharacteristic struggles in the quarter finals against Diego Schwartzman, the serve was back in style for Nadal in this one. He didn’t face a single break point while winning 90% of his first serve points. “I feel comfortable here, I like the atmosphere, I like the crowd. I feel a big energy when I am playing in this Arthur Ashe Stadium. Yeah, just can say thanks to the crowd because honestly I feel a big support from them all the time. That’s important for me.” he said on what it means to play in New York.
One thing seems for sure is that Medvedev will not lose the match in the locker room or through distractions, with the Russian’s mentality much improved from his volatility that hindered him in past tournaments. He puts that down to a number of things including the addition of an extra coach to his team. “She’s helping me a lot. I mean, to be honest, my wife helps me a lot. Again, just sitting there with myself. I lost a lot of matches in my career when I was getting crazy. You never know when you lose a match just because you lost it or because you get crazy and lost some concentration. You can never be sure about it.” he said.
The similarities with Medvedev and Novak Djokovic are there to see and it feels like the Russian could be the one that replaces him in having some of the epic encounters that have defined this era of tennis. As for this match, the matchup with Nadal has not been to kind to him in the past. Back in the Montreal final earlier this year, Nadal was dominant in victory, never being troubled in a 6-3 6-0 win. “Here the wind is not there. I don’t know. Of course, helps little bit. But honestly, I think he’s making the steps forward every single day.” he said referring to that match “Is a super tough final. I need to be playing at my best. I think at the end of the match I increased my level again today. I need to hold this level if I want to have chances on Sunday. If not, is so difficult. He is very, very solid.”
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in four sets