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US Open 2019 Men's final: Rafael Nadal v Daniil Medvedev, preview and prediction

ANALYST
Preview
07 Sep 2019, 22:27 IST

Daniil Medvedev(L) and Rafael Nadal
Daniil Medvedev(L) and Rafael Nadal

In an intense, fiercely fought first set that lasted little over an hour and 15 minutes, Rafael Nadal prevailed when pushed to the brink in the tie-break against an upbeat Italian Matteo Berrettini in the semi-final of the US Open 2019.

The set appeared to be in the firm grip of the young Italian challenger, but the Spaniard saved two set points to eventually snatch the first set 7-6, thereby breaking Berrettini’s spirit. The 23-year old Italian aspirant slowly crumbled as the match progressed as Nadal rolled into his 5th US Open final, 3rd Slam final of 2019.

In pursuit of his 4th US Open title and 19th overall Major, the World No.2 will face the young and sensational Daniil Medvedev, who found a place in the finals at Washington DC, Montreal and Cincinnati this North American hard-court season before booking a berth in the title clash of a Major for the first-time ever in his short career so far.

2019 US Open - Daniil Medvedev
2019 US Open - Daniil Medvedev

The 23-year old Russian overcame the 3-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals before cruising past Grigor Dimitrov in straight-sets in the semi-finals. However, now he faces his biggest challenge so far at this year’s US Open when he takes the court against the man in prime form himself, the 18-time Grand Slam champion, in the finals in a hope to clinch his maiden Major of his career at New York.

In their only meeting on the tour so far, Rafael Nadal schooled Medvedev 6-3, 6-0 in the finals at Montreal earlier this year. The Russian would look forward to quickly learn from his mistakes of the finals at Rogers Cup if he wants to challenge the raging Spaniard in their upcoming US Open final.

At Montreal, especially, even on Nadal’s second serve, the Russian was standing way too far back behind the baseline, neither exerting any pressure on Nadal while serving nor hurrying the Spaniard in their baseline exchanges. Medvedev would need to find a right court position against the World No.2 to improvise his game in the final in a bid to unsettle the three-time US Open champion.

As far as Russian is concerned, he is well-known for his fast serving and for getting the basics right. He may not have a thunderous forehand or a blistering backhand, but just as his rival in the final, he has a strong defensive game and makes the opponent play one extra shot.

Medvedev’s defensive skills and his innate ability to return the balls in court, much like Novak Djokovic, may have helped him so far in the final Slam of the year, but against the Spaniard, who is a master of long baseline rallies himself, the Russian would need to find solutions to keep the points short so as to make Nadal play differently from his normal routine, physical game.

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2019 US Open - Rafael Nadal
2019 US Open - Rafael Nadal

Nadal, on the other hand, is chasing something incredible and is just a win away from winning his 19th Grand Slam title, just one shy of Roger Federer’s count of 20 Majors. On his comeback trail, since the start of 2017 Australian Open, except against his long-time nemesis Federer and Djokovic, the Spaniard has rarely blinked against anybody else, especially at the Majors and against Medvedev, Nadal starts as a firm favourite to lift his 4th US Open crown.

Since the Masters 1000 event at Rome earlier this May, the Spaniard has turned his season around, winning titles at Italian capital, French Open and Montreal, apart from losing just a solitary match against Federer at Wimbledon. A win at New York in the upcoming final would be like icing on the cake for the Spaniard as he aims to register his fifth hardcourt Major.

With a winning record of 2-4 in the finals so far this year, can Medvedev upset his 10-year senior opponent, Nadal, to win biggest prize of his short career thus far or will Nadal cruise past the young Russian challenger to record his second Major title of 2019?

Can Arthur Ashe Stadium witness a new champion? One can’t wait for the action to get underway at Flushing Meadows, New York in the enticing men’s final at US Open 2019!

Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in straight sets.

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