'If Rafael Nadal peaks, he can beat...', says expert

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'If Rafael Nadal peaks, he can beat...', says expert

Daniil Medvedev clinched his first Major crown at last year's US Open. The Russian became No. 1 in the world this season, but was only able to stay on top for a short time. Medvedev began the 2022 season with three straight wins against Top 10 players.

He reached the Australian Open final and moved closer to his fourth win over top rivals after forging a 6-2, 7-6, 3- 2 and 40-0 against Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard refused to give up and staged one of his best comebacks in a 2-6 6-7 6-4 6-4 7-5 victory after five hours and 24 minutes.

Medvedev was unable to contend for any more notable titles in the rest of the season, suffering eight straight Top 10 losses and ending the year with three losses at the ATP Finals. The Russian fought well in Turin, but it was not enough to collect at least 200 ATP points after falling to Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic in the decisive tie break.

Daniil served to win over Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic, blowing his chances and leaving Turin empty-handed. Speaking of the Australian Open final, Medvedev admitted that he couldn't chase notable titles after that tough loss.

Nadal did not play well in the opening match in Melbourne, struggling and failing on serve in the second set. Medvedev got it in the tie break and found himself with a big lead before the third set. The Spaniard faced those three break points in the sixth game of the third set, and it would have been all over for him if he had lost any of those points.

Like a true champion, Nadal survived and earned a break in the ninth game to steal the set and improve his chances. Things got serious when Rafa broke twice in the fourth set and forced a decider, recovering and fighting like a lion.

Oddo reflects on Nadal

Speaking on the Tennis Channel Inside-In podcast recently, sportswriter Chris Oddo reflected on Rafael Nadal's season, saying that if he can find his top fitness level in 2023, he will be the player to beat.

"We forget Rafa because not much has happened for him off-late, the injuries kind of caught up with him, he became a father, and a lot of things happened. But two Slams at the beginning of the year and I think what he proved to me and what I think is still going to be true going forward is that if Rafa can find a way to get that diesel engine going and get to peak fitness where he's comfortable with the surface, where he's going to be playing, he gets a little bit of a lead-up, his body's not giving him issues, if he peaks, he can beat anybody and do the damage.

He can do that again next year. I think it's going to be harder for him to sign that peak fitness but if he's got it and he's thriving in his body, he can be the best,"Oddo said.