The 2020 Nitto ATP Finals will see Dominic Thiem take on Daniil Medvedev for the title on Sunday. The Austrian and the Russian knocked out Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in their respective semifinals, denying fans the chance to witness a 57th encounter between Djokovic and Nadal.
Surprisingly though, one of those half-wishing for a final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic was none other than Daniil Medvedev himself. Speaking to the press after his win against the Spaniard, the World No. 4 revealed how he hoped for two different final match-ups after seeing an online poll - one from his own perspective, and one from that of the legendary 'Djodal' rivalry.
"I saw that there were polls on social networks about which end the fans would want to see,” Medvedev said. “In my head I said that I wish it was a Medvedev vs Thiem, but my heart said I wanted a Nadal vs Djokovic. Finally the first thing happened (laughs). “
The Russian then talked about how special it was for him and Dominic Thiem to beat the two legends of the sport on their way to the final. Medvedev believes that Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic being challenged by the younger stars is good for tennis.
“Great what we have achieved, since it is not easy at all to be able to beat the two most important players in the history of tennis with the exception of Roger Federer,” the Russian continued. “I think it is very good for tennis that players like Domi or like me, whether they are fighting for the big tennis titles."
Medvedev also pointed out that the final against Dominic Thiem is going to be anything but easy, given how well the Austrian has been playing this year.
"It's going to be a very tough match as Thiem is having a fantastic year, winning his first Grand Slam and playing at a level that very few can counter," the World No. 4 added.
To beat a player like Rafael Nadal, you need everything: Daniil Medvedev
Against Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev came back from 6-3, 5-4 down - with the Spaniard serving for the match - before eventually winning in three. The Russian explained that he had been feeling ‘strange’ until that 5-4 game, and that he struggled to match Nadal’s level in key exchanges.
“I felt really strange until 5-4 for him in the second set, when he was serving for the match,” Medvedev said. “It felt like I was doing great shots, but there was no link in my game, and that was why I was losing. He was better in the important moments, I couldn’t return in the important moments, I couldn’t make a good shot in the important moments.”
It was then that Medvedev decided to test Rafael Nadal’s sliced backhand with more regularity, often leaving the Spaniard scrambling to make the return.
“I knew I had to change certain things if I wanted to get back into the game,” Medvedev said. “And so I did. I decided to play his backhand more since today I saw that he was only using it for the cut. I think that was when I began to worry him, and I got fully into the game.”
The Russian also showered rich praise on Rafael Nadal, and pointed out that you need an extensive set of physical and mental attributes to stand any chance of beating the Spaniard.
"To beat a player like Rafa, you need everything," Medvedev said. "Good backhand, good forehand, good serve. Mentally you need to be very good and fight each point as if it were the last."