'I almost beat Rafael Nadal in a Major final, I belong at the top,' says Medvedev



by   |  VIEW 8718

'I almost beat Rafael Nadal in a Major final, I belong at the top,' says Medvedev

In his third Major final, Daniil Medvedev finally made the last step last Sunday and conquered the first trophy at the US Open. Daniil took down world no. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to earn a Major glory at 25 and fix that heartbreaking loss to Rafael Nadal in the title clash from two years ago.

After hour hours and 49 minutes, Nadal overpowered Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 for his 19th Major title, barely prevailing in the decisive moments against the youngster who gave his everything to stay in touch and prove himself on the big scene.

Both players had more winners than unforced errors in an incredible mixture of attacking tennis and a mind-blowing defense, proving they were the world's best players at that moment. Nadal was two sets to love ahead and with a break in the third set before Daniil started to climb back, stealing the third set and setting up a decider in what could have been the most significant turnaround at the US Open in 70 years.

Nonetheless, Nadal survived the fifth set's opening service game and moved over the top with a double break, barely taking the victory home to fall to the ground in disbelief. The opening set lasted for over an hour and brought a grueling battle with three breaks.

Nadal struggled to find the first serve and paid the price already in the third game when Daniil broke after the Spaniard's loose forehand. The Russian could not stay in front for too long, though, spraying a backhand error in the next game to bring Rafa back to the positive side of the scoreboard, with three more return chances for world no.

2 at 4-3. Daniil repelled them all and survived another challenging service game at 4-5 when he was two points from losing set four times. In the rest of the set, Rafa was in the zone, delivering one good hold after another and finally finding how to steal Medvedev's serve in game 12 for 7-5 after 63 minutes.

Daniil Medvedev lost his first Major final to Rafael Nadal in five sets in 2019.

Daniil was the more aggressive player again in set number two, wasting a break chance in the first game and finding himself under pressure after failing to do much in the next four return games.

Rafa squandered no less than four chances at 2-1, battling hard and earning the desired break two games later when Daniil netted a forehand. Rafa grabbed a break in the third set's game five when Daniil netted a backhand, marching towards the finish line in those moments.

Getting broken only once so far, the Spaniard played a loose service game to waste the advantage and bring the Russian back to 3-3. Rafa had more chances to go ahead at 4-4 when the youngster repelled a couple of break chances for a massive momentum.

Medvedev held at love in game 11 and stole Nadal's serve at 15 with a backhand down the line winner in the next one for 7-5 to reduce the overall deficit after two hours and 53 minutes. The fourth set lasted for over 50 minutes, and it was a mighty close one, with Daniil winning one point more.

He repelled two break chances at 2-2 and delivered that pivotal break in game ten after taking four straight points from 40-15 down. The Russian closed the set with a return winner and was now a set away from one of the most remarkable comebacks in the Major finals.

Facing an ultimate challenge, Rafa saved three break points in the fifth set's second game in a manner of a true champion. That allowed him to take charge, deliver breaks in games five (his first after ten mediocre return games) and seven and open a massive lead.

Losing focus at 5-2, the Spaniard received a time violation and suffered a break after a double fault to keep Medvedev alive. Fighting like a lion, Daniil repelled two match points on serve with winners to reduce the deficit to 5-4 and force the Spaniard to serve for the title.

With no room for errors, Rafa finally sailed over the finish line after fending off a break point in game ten, celebrating the title in what had been one of the longest US Open finals in history. "To live that 2019 US Open final against Rafael Nadal was special.

I understood, 'Okay, well, I almost beat Rafa, being two sets down and a break, so I do belong here,'" Daniil Medvedev said.