He can’t do it anymore, can he? Uh yeah, he can. In 2017, Rafael Nadal won the US Open without beating a single top-20 opponent, the only time that has ever happened. And while that’s not it, there would still be something sneaky about it: in the weaker half of the table, without Novak Djokovic (and noNovak Djokovic), then Alexander Zverev eliminated early.
But to win the final, he will have to do it. Daniil Medvedev is serious business and, having won Flushing Meadow, stands like a champ and knows he can do it when he really needs to.
We still can’t be sure of him – he will probably show up – the same way we can be sure of Nadal – he will definitely show up. But it has the makings of a formidable contest, because the match-up is close. Historically, Nadal has struggled – all things considered! – against big players with good backhands – think Murray, Djokovic, Wawrinka and early Del Potro – because their size neutralizes his biggest weapon, the high forehand in the aforementioned good backhand – and Medvedev is absolutely in their category.
A way of looking at things. Another, however, would note that Medvedev tends to win games by serving big, keeping good length and not missing from the back – he doesn’t hit many ground winners, so if he doesn’t his first serves, he can find it difficult to close the big games because he counts on the absence of his opponent. Nadal, on the other hand, is similar in that he doesn’t miss much from the baseline, but different in that he also hits a lot of winners.
This is one of the reasons why this blog leans towards a 21st major rather than a second. But the main motivating factor is that number and what it means: Nadal knows he won’t have much better chance of being the most tennis, uh, the most winner the man of all time, that is to say, he will be absolutely Savage there, in the best possible way. Sit down, because it’s going to be awesome.
Player: 7:30 p.m. local, 8:30 a.m. GMT