Djokovic is out, Federer is gone, there’s only one left of the big 3 and its Rafa Nadal, the bull from Mallorca, he’s in the US Open final against Daniil Medvedev, a 23 year old Russian who’s won the most matches on tour this season at 50. It’s probably a final not many predicted but Medvedev has earned his place with blistering form during the American summer, being the only player along with Lendl and Agassi to make the Washington, Cincinnati, Toronto and US Open finals in one season, but does he have a chance against Rafa?
Why Rafa will win
He is so locked in right now. When Novak and Roger lost he must have been sitting in his Manhattan hotel room punching his thighs with delight, probably yelled ‘vamos’ and moved a couple of water bottles too. He crushed Medvedev 6-3, 6-0 earlier this season in the Toronto final and will play no differently than he’s done these two weeks, win some sneaky points on serve, drill forehands to the corners, play defense when he needs to and step up into the court when he has to, it’s a formula that works, unless something wacky happens he’ll win.
Why Medvedev will win
The Russian really painted himself as the villain in some on court interviews after his victories earlier in the week in the 3rdround against Feli Lopez after they booed him, it all started when he snatched a towel from a ball kid, and it progressively got worse, it ended with Medvedev motioning for more boos and saying in the on court interview after his victory “I want all of you to know when you sleep tonight I won because of you”, it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
This has nothing to do with forehands and backhands and I think its about a little quirk in the Russian psyche that they’re a bit unhinged, see Safin, Kafelnikov. I think Medvedev needs more of that actually, he needs a circus atmosphere, see Kyrgios, I think it’s the only way he can upset Rafa, he doesn’t have the game straight up to cause him any problems.
There’s a chance this match could get ugly, I see a similar situation in a lot of big matches with Rafa against players outside Federer or Novak that it’s a close first set then a blowout. It happened in the semi against Berrettini, Rafa escapes a tiebreak after saving two set points then wins the next two sets 6-3, 6-1. The same could happen on Sunday, Medvedev keeps it close for a set, Rafa wrestles control and there’s nothing the player can do to wrestle it back. He’ll just jerk you from side to side, wear you out and play the right shots when it matters the most.
As I said earlier the only chance Medvedev has is if he turns the crowd against him, which sound counter productive but he needs something outside the boundaries of the court to take Rafa off his game, if the Russian keeps it close and we get to a 4th or 5th set then the crowd will come around, unless he does that Rafa will win in straight sets and secure his 19thGrand Slam.