That was a heck of a match.
Daniil Medvedev gave Rafael Nadal all he could muster, but in the end the Spaniard taught the upstart Russian a valuable lesson.
If you want to win the US Open from Nadal, you need to pry it from his cold, dead hands, with a 7-5 6-3 5-7 6-4 6-4 win.
It was Nadal’s fourth US Open Championship and 19th major of his career.
“I do see myself at 33 years running and competing like Rafael Nadal,” said Medvedev. “Although Rafa said it himself, that he changed his game a lot from younger age to be able to compete at the highest level. Maybe I’ll have to do the same. This I cannot know.”
It first looked like youth was going to be served in this match, as Nadal started running out of gas in the third set after taking the first two. Medvedev started to take command, but Nadal was still in the sets, even though it was clear Nadal was losing some steam.
“First two sets, I was kind of close, but at the same time Rafa was a beast out there. I felt like everything I do, he has an answer,” Medvedev said. “So I was continuing to try something, to find something new. I was going to the net sometimes, doing some dropshots, some slice. I tried everything.”
But in the fifth, Nadal found a second wind and was able to run the net on Medvedev, which the Russian didn’t have an answer. It was there where Nadal was able to barely beat his counterpart.
“Was I close to winning?” Medvedev said. “Yes, one set away. I mean, had breakpoints at 5-4. I will remember everything of it. I will be disappointed with the result, but I will be happy with the way I played, as I say, the whole summer, the whole US Open.”
More importantly, Nadal is positing himself to overtake Roger Federer with the most career Grand Slams. He’s now one behind the Maestro and the Bull is not looking to slow down. Remember he dominates the French Open and will continue to do so until someone proves he can overtake him.
And today proved that. Even out of gas, Nadal played on guts and showed the heart of a champion. Unlike Federer, who ran out of gas and lost, the Spaniard found his second wind in the fifth, even though Medvedev seemed to control the flow.
That’s what makes this Final so special. One day, Medvedev will win the US Open. He’s only 23, but the world will look back fondly on the days of Novak Djokovic, Federer and Nadal and wonder why tennis took a step back without the Big Three on the court.
“I have to say, three guys, they are legends,” Medvedev said. “The way they’re playing tennis is just unbelievable. When you are out there, tactically it’s tougher than against anybody else.”
Earlier in the tournament Alexander Zverev talked about the new generation taking control. Unfortunately, their time will have to wait, as we have seen tonight, there’s no stopping Rafael Nadal, especially when there’s a championship involved.
Medvedev learned this tonight. The hard way.
He will have a future, but right now it’s Rafael Nadal’s time and for the foreseeable future.