Daniil Medvedev couldn't fight off demons to capture the Australian Open title



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Daniil Medvedev couldn't fight off demons to capture the Australian Open title

"In the fifth set I was just like 'make him run' But he was unreal, he was really strong the way he played," Daniil Medvedev, the ATP's no. 2 player in the world said of Rafael Nadal. The loss of 6-2, 7-6, 4-6, 4-6, 5-7 to the Spaniard at the 2022 Australian Open was still an extravaganza not to be missed.

The crowd just thought it was unbelievable how he didn't seal that match and win his first slam of the year and second career title. But he couldn't. There were a lot of conditions that may have contributed to Daniil's loss and it wasn't only Rafael Nadal.

The debacle of disrupted moods started in the semifinal round with Stefanos Tsitsipas. It was over the Greek's father intruding on his son's match by court coaching. The fact of losing his temper, saying to the umpire "Are you stupid?', getting unfocused and then being fined $12,000 didn't help Medvedev in his mental preparation on fighting Nadal for the championship.

"It's not right what I did, let's move on," the Russian would later admit. But deep down that was seething inside of him despite winning the first two sets 6-2, 7-6 in the final match. The third set was clearly the Spaniard's.

Medvedev's formula of making him hit one more ball just inspired and strengthened Nadal's ability to create amazing victory points. The idea that Medvedev felt the crowd wasn't always behind him because he was Russian irked him.

He was disgusted that there were shouts from the arena when he was beginning to serve. "It's disappointing and it's disrespectful," he shook his head in frustration. He outwardly admitted that "..these big matches I didn't see many people who wanted me to win."

It might have been from the onset as the two opponents entered the Rod Laver Arena that the distinct feeling was heard and felt. There was a standing ovation for Nadal but for Medvedev there was significant boos and distasteful sounds.

It was that third set that swung the match around and started Nadal's climb to winning the title. It was also Medvedev's fall from physical and mental stability to hamper being victorious in the first slam of the season.

Rafael Nadal simply went on a tearing spree of accumulated points as he came up with superb shotmaking while Medvedev came up with more unforced errors. "The last thing to go is the serve when you're tired," Commentator John McEnroe says of the Russian's continued collapsing performance.

Medvedev had every right as his match with Stefanos Tsitsipas was 2-1/2 hours and with Nadal went to over five hours. The Spaniard's gamesmanship became more impeccable as the match went on. Why? Well he was down two straight sets and winning the third gave him the psyche to continue his trek to the crown.

"If not now, when..." the saying goes and Rafa knew to take his opportunities then and now if he had the slightest bit hope of capturing his 21st slam title. The fourth set was just what Nadal needed to prove to himself that he could do this, no matter the aches, the tiredness, the heat and also Medvedev's strongest desire to grab the championship from him.

But the fifth and deciding set would tell the tale. The Spaniard led 4-3 and the fight to the crown still wasn't hardly over for either opponent. Daniil Medvedev dived and stretched for balls hitting more unforced errors than winners.

It was a valiant effort he put forth but at 5-4 with Nadal leading, it was evident that there was nearly a small to no window of possibility that the Russian would come out the winner in this Melbourne slam. Daniil Medvedev had to admit about a major demon that stopped his momentum and collapsed his game.

"Small points, small details, if I wanted to win, he had said. He looked glum and got real, adding "that's tennis, that's life."