Rafael Nadal’s uncle Toni recently assessed the 2021 Australian Open final between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev. Writing for El Pais, the Spaniard claimed that the final did not live up to the expectations and that it largely witnessed one-way traffic in favor of Djokovic, who he believes was by far the better player.
Ahead of the final, many had expected Daniil Medvedev to give Novak Djokovic a stern test given the Russian's ability to dig deep in matches with his solid defense. But that was not to be as the Serb cantered to a straight-sets victory, securing his 18th Major title in under two hours of play.
Taking note of the mismatch in the encounter, Toni Nadal claimed that the Australian Open final was a 'little-disputed matchup'.
"What was envisioned to be an entertaining, tough and competitive Grand Slam final between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev was, in reality, a little-disputed and low-brilliance matchup in which the Serb was clearly superior," Toni Nadal wrote.
Rafael Nadal’s uncle pointed out that the match's initial phase was evenly poised, with Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev attempting to outwit each other on the court. But according to Toni the fate of the match was decided at the end of the first set, as Djokovic broke Medvedev in the 12th game to give himself the lead.
"The game was practically sentenced with the break in the 12th game of the first set," Toni Nadal added. "Until that moment, we had seen a scoreboard that equally distributed the merits, as well as different changes in strategy by the two tennis players. They had been combining patient exchanges to prepare the point well with moments of greater aggressiveness, seeking the immediate resolution of the goal."
Toni Nadal believes Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev are players of a similar mold, given that both are predominantly defensive-oriented who can also expertly pull the trigger when needed.
"In fact, the Russian and the Serbian have similar characteristics," Toni Nadal continued. "They are almost impregnable from the back of the court, they have an admirable defense capacity and a counterattack that, most of the time, is definitive."
I'm sure Daniil Medvedev came out with all the information about Novak Djokovic well-analyzed: Toni Nadal
Rafael Nadal's uncle believes Daniil Medvedev did all the tactical homework needed to face Novak Djokovic ahead of the final. But Toni was surprised by how easily losing the first set severely dented the Russian’s confidence.
The 59-year-old feels Daniil Medvedev would be ruing his poor display against Novak Djokovic, since it was a great opportunity to win his first Major.
"I'm sure Daniil Medvedev came out to the Rod Laver Arena with all the information about Novak Djokovic well analyzed, but he was not able to retain his poise, to overcome the frustration of delivering the first set, or to keep up the fight in those difficult moments," Toni Nadal explained. "It surprises me that, sometimes, athletes of this level have that little capacity to overcome difficulty. I imagine that once the match was over, the Russian realized the missed opportunity and the little resistance he exhibited."