In a potential knockout encounter at the O2 Arena, the US Open champion Rafael Nadal will take on the US Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev in their second round-robin match on Day 4 of the Nitto ATP Finals 2019.
In his opening match, the Spaniard suffered a comprehensive 2-6, 4-6 defeat against the defending champion Alexander Zverev, which certainly raises a lot of questions over Nadal’s fitness and form as he hopes to get back on track in his upcoming face-off against Medvedev.
Medvedev has enjoyed a sensational 2019 so far and having made six consecutive appearances in the final where he won titles at Cincinnati, Shanghai and St. Petersburg, the latter half of the season has been nothing short of remarkable for the 23-year old Russian.
However, having said that, post this incredible time on the tour, the young Russian now has succumbed to twin defeats, giving us an impression that he might be undergoing mental and physical exhaustion following a long and taxing season.
The 23-year old Russian suffered a surprising defeat at the hands of Jeremy Chardy at the Paris Masters and was taken down by Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in his opening encounter at London.
On the ATP tour so far, Nadal leads Medvedev 2-0 in their head to head tally and both of his wins against the fast-rising Russian have come in the finals. While the Spaniard dominated the upbeat Russian at Montreal, a drastically improved Medvedev almost stole the thunder at New York in the US Open final, going down in five sets in an epic battle at the Flushing Meadows earlier this September.
Nadal’s recent loss against Zverev was his first since his defeat to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon semi-final earlier this July and apparently, it seemed that he was far away from his best against the young German in his opening encounter.
While Nadal has taken the field at the ongoing ATP Finals, his abdominal injury that forced the Spaniard to retire against Denis Shapovalov in the semi-finals at Paris Masters 1000, might well influence how he performs in his upcoming matches.
In a do or die contest against Medvedev, the Spaniard would be wary of the Russian’s resilience and cannot afford to have a bad day with his serves, and will need to do a lot more better than his effort against Zverev.
Nadal found himself circumspect and vulnerable in his opening round-robin match against Zverev and Medvedev would hope to bank on this opportunity as the latter aims to register his maiden win at Nitto ATP Finals in his debut appearance at the O2 Arena.
As Medvedev approaches an all-important clash against the 19-time Grand Slam champion, the Russian can take a lot of inspiration from the way he was able to display a tremendous variety in his game that held the rampant Nadal at bay in the finals at the US Open this year.
Nadal, on the other hand, would hope to put his disappointments behind him to stitch together a sound performance against Medvedev in order to keep his hopes in the tournament alive.
While Nadal starts as a slight favourite against Medvedev, his recent debacle against Zverev stacks the odds against him and it would be intriguing to witness if Nadal can bounce back from his defeat in the first match.
Can a circumspect Nadal get better of Medvedev or will the young Russian register his first-ever win at the year-ending Finals in his upcoming contest against the veteran Spaniard?
Indeed, it would be amazing if the upcoming Nadal-Medvedev battle lives up to its expectations in the same way as Dominic Thiem-Novak Djokovic contest did on the day 3 of Nitto ATP Finals 2019.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in straight sets.