It wasn’t the final the USTA hoped for, but maybe they will get one just as entertaining. With Daniil Medvedev taking out Gregor Dimitrov, 7-6 6-4 6-3, and Rafael Nadal making mincemeat of Matteo Berrettini, 7-6 6-4 6-1, the Open final will be truly a good vs. evil.
“It’s funny because actually when I was like, I don’t remember, six or seven, I liked wrestling because I thought it’s for real,” Medveddev said. “My parents were like, Why are you watching this? This is just a show. I was like, No, they’re fighting for real.
“But I don’t think it has any – how you say? – impact on what’s been happening here”
Maybe not on the courts, but on the court of public opinion, New Yorkers have long memories and surely will be Nadal’s side on Sunday night. If there was a home team in this final, it’s Nadal, who may be the most famous and beloved Spaniard since Salvatore Dali.
Medvedev’s boorish behavior when he beat Feliciano Lopez earlier in the week put a target on his back and telling the booing crowd, “I won because of you,” may have been the most obnoxious behavior seen in Flushing since John Rocker 20 years ago.
He since apologized and regretted the remarks, but the damage has been done. Make no mistake, the crowd will be behind Rafa at this final and the question won’t be who will be cheered or jeered, but how each player will react to the capacity crowd.
We all know how Nadal will react and he has been smooth as silk these past two weeks, almost forgotten because of his efficiency.
Medvedev, on the other hand, will also have to face his “demons” on the court as he calls them.
“I will not say that I’m a kind person or a good person. I can only say I’m a really calm person in life,” he said. “I actually have no idea why the demons go out when I play tennis.
“Especially when I was a junior, I had a lot of problems with my attitude. I was not getting defaulted, but I was getting — to have a game penalty was easy.”
So you understand the bad boy act won’t cut it here, not when the finals are going on.
Historically, there’s only been one match between the two, in the 2019 Canadian Masters. Nadal won that one, 6-3 6-0.
“It was a tough one,” Medvedev said. “As I actually said, his energy was much higher than mine. He kind of, I would say, eaten me on the court because the start was kind of similar.
“I had one breakpoint, then he got a break, but I only lost with one break. Then he was only going harder, harder, faster, stronger, and I was only going down.
It’s great that I have this experience playing him in the final of a Masters. I know what to expect. I know how to prepare for it.”
Well good luck. Remember before this final, Medvedev’s best finish in a major was the fourth round.
Rafa may put some pressure on him early. But even a straight sets win may give the Open crowd their pound of flesh no matter how contrite the Russian seems.
All of that means it’s going to make is a very interesting US Open Final. Sure it’s not Roger Federer, but is may be the next best thing.
And frankly for a while it will be a lot more fun.