Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal have produced some nail-biting matches in their rivalry, starting with their first meeting at the Canadian Open in 2019. But while Medvedev has pushed Nadal hard on several occasions, he has emerged victorious only once; the Spaniard leads the head-to-head 5-1.
Not surprisingly, Medvedev recently disclosed that he considers Nadal to be a unique challenge.
Among the six meetings between Nadal and Medvedev were two blockbuster Grand Slam blockbuster finals, with both of them going the distance. The first was at the 2019 US Open, where the Russian fought hard after losing the first two sets and forced the match into a decider.
But Nadal eventually won the match 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 to lift his 19th Major title.
The second Grand Slam meeting between the pair was even more nerve-shredding, and took place at the Australian Open earlier this year. Nadal was aiming to become the first man to reach 21 Grand Slam titles, but looked far from his best as the Russian took the first two sets.
Even in the third set, Nadal was down 2-3 and 0-40, staring at near-certain defeat. But that is when he shifted gears and made one of the most spectacular comebacks in the history of tennis to defeat Medvedev 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper Diario de Mallorca, Medvedev looked back at the epic final and hailed the 22-time Grand Slam champion for his fighting spirit.
"We both played a great game," the World No. 1 said. "He was stronger than me. I had a unique opportunity with two sets to love, 3-2 and 0-40. But he played amazing."
"These things happen in tennis," Medvedev added. "It is not the first time that someone has lost a match that they are winning, especially against Nadal. His talent and his way of fighting are incredible. He always finds a solution at the most difficult moment of the match. It is very difficult to play against him."
Daniil Medvedev looking to defend his title in Mallorca
Daniil Medvedev has reached Spain's Mallorca region to participate in the Mallorca Championships. When the event made its debut last year, the Russian defeated America's Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-2 in the final to win his first grass-court title.
After losing to Marin Cilic in the fourth round of the French Open this year, Medvedev competed in two grass-court tournaments — 's-Hertogenbosch and Halle Open. Both events saw him reach the final without dropping a set, but he ended up losing each of the title clashes in straight sets.
The 26-year-old would now be looking to go a step further and win his first title of the year in Mallorca. He admitted that he needs to improve but at the same time is content about having reached two finals.
"I will try to win," Medvedev said. "In my last two tournaments, I have reached the final, which is not too bad. It means that you have been better than many of your rivals, but I did not play well enough. I will have to improve to win the tournament."
In his first match, scheduled on Wednesday, Medvedev will face compatriot Aslan Karatsev.