Rafael Nadal: 'Facing Daniil Medvedev is never easy'

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Rafael Nadal: 'Facing Daniil Medvedev is never easy'

Daniil Medvedev became one of the world's best players in the summer of 2019, embracing an impressive streak on his favorite hard court and fighting for the most notable titles. Rafael Nadal faced Daniil four times in 2019 and 2020, beating him easily in the first clash before the Russian made him run for his money.

Their first meeting came in Montreal 2019 when Daniil reached the first Masters 1000 final following wins over Dominic Thiem and Karen Khachanov. The more experienced player proved to be too strong for the youngster and beat him 6-3, 6-0 in 70 minutes, dominating both serve and return to deny Medvedev's first Masters 1000 crown.

A week later in Cincinnati, the Russian changed that and reached the first Major final at the US Open, where he faced Nadal. After four hours and 51 minutes, Rafa prevailed 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, finding an extra gear in the decider's closest stages to defend the lead and secure the fourth US Open crown.

Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev played four times, with three tight encounters.

In November, Nadal and Medvedev met for the third time and embraced another open war at the ATP Finals. Trailing 5-1 in the decider and facing a match point in the seventh game, Nadal performed a remarkable comeback to earn a 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 triumph in grueling two hours and 46 minutes.

In the final set, Rafa broke back in the last moment at 4-5 and grabbed the tie break 7-4 to emerge at the top. A year later, Rafa and Daniil embraced another London marathon, this time with a different outcome. Seeking the first ATP Finals crown, Nadal led 6-3, 5-4 against Medvedev in the semis, but instead of bringing the encounter home in under an hour and a half, the Spaniard allowed the opponent to bounce back and score a 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 triumph, the first in their matches!

Medvedev prevailed in two hours and 35 minutes, scoring a vital break at 4-5 in set number two when Rafa served for the victory and never looking back until the end. Two rivals will have to wait until 2022 to meet again, with Nadal missing the rest of the current season due to a foot injury.

"Daniil has had the exceptional second half of the 2019 season. It's not easy to reach so many consecutive finals and win the tournaments he did. I think it was awe-inspiring, and my matches against him were very tough," Rafael Nadal said.