US Open 2019 men's final: Rafael Nadal vs Daniil Medvedev, preview and prediction
There seems to be little that opponents can do that bothers Daniil Medvedev, the Russian No. 1 who made his fourth consecutive final at the US Open last night. The fifth seed brushed aside an inspired start from Bulgarian star Grigor Dimitrov to move into the finals in straight sets.
Now the only person separating Medvedev from his first ever Grand Slam title is one of the all time greats of the game, Rafael Nadal. We will get to Rafael Nadal in a while, but let's talk about the extraordinary journey of the Russian over the American summer.
Medvedev came into the US Open series in good form, but few would have expected him to do as well as he has here. Wins over former New York champions Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Marin Cilic, four finals, and an almost impossible 20 match wins without any signs of fatigue, he has accomplished all of that here.
And he is not done yet. Medvedev has battled past some tough opponents and a less than supportive New York crowd in this past couple of weeks, but he always managed to find a way through. His impressive quality of absorbing pace and ability to send every ball back has made him impossible to beat.
Nadal still the favorite
What then, would it take to get a win against Medevdev? It is noteworthy that the Russian has been a lot more successful against big-hitting opponents prone to errors when pushed to the boundaries. In fact, he had struggled against the likes of Nick Kyrgios and Feliciano Lopez, who bring variety into their game and did not give Medvedev too much pace.
The Russian struggles to generate any pace off the ground, especially on his forehand with negligible rotation on that side. If his opponents are not giving pace to redirect at them or free points off errors, it becomes increasingly difficult for Medvedev to win rallies. And that is exactly what he will up against Nadal in the final.
The Spaniard's topspin-heavy ground-strokes rarely sail long and the weight on the ball makes it tricky to handle. Medvedev does not have the power to outhit Nadal and the first serve notwithstanding, it will be interesting to see how he manages to tear apart the Spaniard's game.
Medvedev does get a lot many balls back, but a lot them are also looking to be hit for a winner. If Nadal keeps up the aggression and takes those opportunities for winners, he might well on his way to a 19th Slam title.
Prediction: Nadal to win in four sets.Modified 21 Dec 2019, 00:24 IST