Daniil Medvedev recalls: “I almost beat Rafael Nadal”

Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal are the top seed at the US Open. Two rivals are vying for the ATP throne and being crowned in the last big event of the season, although they still have to work hard to enter the title fight.

Three years ago, Medvedev and Nadal played the unforgettable US Open final, where Rafa triumphed 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 after four hours and 49 minutes! Daniel recovered after losing the first two sets before Rafa came out on top with a fine finish in the 10th game of the season.

Both players scored more wins than unforced errors in an amazing blend of offensive tennis and amazing defense from the world’s best players. Nadal had two sets to like the advantage and a break in the third before Daniel started going up again.

The Russian stole the third set and arranged a decision in what would have been the most significant turnaround at the US Open in 70 years. However, Nadal survived the opening match of the fifth set and went over the top with a double break.

The opening set lasted over an hour and brought an uphill battle with three breaks. Nadal struggled to find the first serve and already paid the price in the third game when Daniel broke the Spaniard’s free forehand.

The Russian could not stay ahead for long, making a foul in the backhand in the next match to return Rafa to the positive side. Daniel saved three break points in the eighth game and survived another tough serve match as he was leading 4-5 when he stopped by two points from losing four times.

Rafa was in the area in the rest of the set, making one pass after another and finally stealing Medvedev’s serve in the 12th game for 7-5 after 63 minutes.

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

Daniel was the most aggressive player again in the second set.

He missed a break opportunity in the first match and came under pressure after failing to do much in the next four return matches. Rafa missed no less than four chances with a 2-1 draw, fought hard and earned the coveted break after two games when Daniel hit a forehand.

Nadal got a break in the fifth game of the third set when Medvedev hit a backhand and sprinted toward the finish line. Having been broken only once so far, the Spaniard played a loose serve to waste the advantage and bring the Russian back to 3-3.

Rafa had more chances to take a 4-4 lead when the youngster fended off two sprinting opportunities to create massive momentum. Medvedev held the love in match 11 and stole Nadal’s serve at the age of 15 with a backhand on the winning streak the next time for 7-5 to reduce the overall deficit after 2 hours 53 minutes.

The fourth set lasted more than 50 minutes, and was so close, Daniel won by one more point. He blocked two break points at 2-2 and provided that pivotal break in Game 10 after earning four consecutive points from the 40-15 lead.

The Russian finished the set with a comeback winner and is now a set away from one of the most impressive comebacks in the Grand Finals. In the ultimate challenge, Rafa saved three break points in the second match of the fifth set in the manner of a true champion.

This allowed him to take charge and provide breaks in games five (his first after ten mediocre comeback matches) and seven and unlocked a massive lead. Having lost focus by 5-2, the Spaniard received a time violation and took a break after a double foul to keep Medvedev alive.

Fighting like a lion, Daniel saved two match points with the winner to cut the difference to 5-4 and force the Spaniard to serve up to win the title. With no room for mistakes, Rafa finally sailed over the finish line after saving a breakout in the 10th game, celebrating the title in one of the longest running US Open finals in history.

“Living in the 2019 US Open final against Rafael Nadal was something special,” said Daniil Medvedev. “I understood, OK, I almost beat Rafa, two sets and a break, so I belong here.”

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