Nadal Inspires Spain To Sixth Davis Cup Triumph

Spain’s Rafael Nadal (2L) celebrates after defeating Canada’s Denis Shapovalov during the final singles tennis match between Canada and Spain at the Davis Cup Madrid Finals 2019 in Madrid on November 24, 2019.
GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Rafael Nadal put the finishing touches to his extraordinary year by clinching a sixth Davis Cup title for Spain on Sunday as he beat Denis Shapovalov in Madrid to seal victory over Canada.

Nadal’s 6-3, 7-6 (9/7) win over Shapovalov in front of an adoring home crowd at the Caja Magica gave Spain an unassailable 2-0 lead after Roberto Bautista Agut earlier battled past Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.

The 33-year-old Nadal had been an unstoppable force in Spain’s pulsating semi-final against Britain on Saturday and never looked like letting this chance slip, with King Felipe VI and Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos watching on, along with Barcelona defender Gerard Pique.

Pique’s marketing company Kosmos have been at the heart of the raft of changes to this 119-year-old competition but Nadal’s brilliance has been familiar, even if this will surely go down as one of the finest seasons of the 19-time Grand Slam champion’s sparkling career.

READ ALSO: Enugu Rangers Protest CAF Cup Afternoon Kick-Off

He added a fourth Davis Cup final success — three more than Roger Federer — to the ones he claimed in 2004, 2009 and 2011, while capping a remarkable 12 months that has included winning the French and US Opens, and ending the year as world number one.

The Spanish team will also pocket a cheque worth $2.1 million.

Nadal won eight out of eight rubbers played this week and at times on Saturday, as when he stormed to singles and doubles victories against Britain, it was tempting to view Spain’s progress as something of a solo effort.

Spain Boost Revamped Event

But, unlike Canada, Spain have used all five of their squad, with Bautista Agut, Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez all playing at least one singles match, and Lopez and Marcel Granollers joining forces in the doubles.

There has also been the undeniable advantage of the home crowd and although Spain’s success has delivered a huge boost to the event in its inaugural year, some will argue it might have been fairer to find a new venue in 2020, let alone consider keeping it in Madrid until 2021.

Hosting and mixed attendances are among several issues for Pique and the International Tennis Federation to solve in the coming months but on the court, some gripping ties have ensured the new Davis Cup has got off to an encouraging start.

Bautista Agut’s win over Auger-Aliassime was particularly poignant, given the world number nine was returning after withdrawing from the team on Thursday, following the death of his father Joaquin.

Shapovalov, meanwhile, had ousted Nadal at the Canada Masters when they first met in 2017 but he was no match here for the veteran’s power and sheer force of will.

A blistering forehand on the run set up the decisive break in the first set, which Nadal served out when Shapovalov hit long.

The youngster had a breakpoint early in the second but slapped his return into the net and Nadal held on, surviving a nine-minute game when a Shapovalov retrieval plopped out.

Shapovalov opted for more variety with a brilliant touch volley and then a deft drop-shot making things increasingly uncomfortable for Nadal, who came under pressure when serving to stay in the set both at 5-4 and 6-5.

In the tie-break, Shapovalov led early but missed a short forehand for 4-2. Instead, Nadal won four of the next five to tee up two points for the title. He looked sure to convert the first, on serve, but Shapovalov ripped a forehand pass.

Two big serves saw Shapovalov save the second and then create a set point of his own. But Nadal saved it for 7-7 and a return into the net gave him a third championship point.

When a Shapovalov forehand hit the tape, Nadal fell on his back, his arms outstretched.

A tie-break had proven crucial to Bautista Agut’s victory too as two poor shots from Auger-Aliassime, the second a wild forehand long gave his opponent three chances to take the opening set.

Auger-Aliassime threatened a comeback with a break back in the second set but the resistance was brief as Bautista Agut broke again immediately before serving out as a final backhand drifted wide.

AFP

Nadal Sweats To Beat Tsitsipas

Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates victory against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas during their men’s singles round-robin match on day six of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 15, 2019. 
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Rafael Nadal recovered to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 7-5 on Friday but faces an anxious wait to find out whether he will qualify for the last four at the ATP Finals.

The Spanish top seed is pinning his hopes on Daniil Medvedev beating defending champion Alexander Zverev in the evening match in Group Andre Agassi in London.

Nadal, who has already secured the year-end number one ranking, has never won the end-of-season tournament and had a miserable start at the O2 Arena, being outplayed by Germany’s Zverev.

But the 19-time Grand Slam champion produced an astonishing comeback to defeat Medvedev, the Russian fourth seed, on Wednesday and give himself a chance of qualifying from the round-robin phase.

READ ALSO: Federer Outclasses Djokovic To Reach ATP Finals Semis

Tsitsipas, 21, had already qualified for the semi-finals before Friday’s match after beating Medvedev and Zverev.

Serve dominated in the first set on Friday, with neither Nadal nor Tsitsipas facing a breakpoint as the match drifted inexorably towards a tie-break.

The Greek sixth seed came out on top, hammering an ace on his first match point to seal the set.

The second set followed a similar pattern until the fifth game when a Tsitsipas double-fault handed Nadal two break points — the first of the match.

The Spaniard could not capitalise but he upped the pressure in Tsitsipas’s next serve game and earned another breakpoint, which the Greek again survived.

But Nadal earned a fourth break point in Tsitsipas’s next service game and this time the Greek player slapped a regulation forehand wide and Nadal went on to level the match.

A pumped-up Nadal maintained his momentum in the early stages of the deciding set, putting consistent pressure on his opponent’s serve but he failed to convert a clutch of breakpoints.

Nadal earned two more breakpoints in the 11th game and this time made it count as Tsitsipas put a backhand wide and he served out to win the match.

Nadal’s efforts will count for nothing unless Medvedev beats Zverev in the later match at the O2 Arena. A win for the German would send Nadal home.

If Medvedev, who cannot progress, beats Zverev, Nadal would face a mouthwatering match against Roger Federer.

Six-time champion Federer, who was in Group Bjorn Borg, secured a spot in the semi-finals for the 16th time in his career on Thursday by beating Novak Djokovic in straight sets.

Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem also qualified for Saturday’s semi-finals.

AFP

Nadal, Djokovic Edge Closer To Possible Paris Final Meeting

Novak Djokovic,                                                                 Rafal Nadal

 

 

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, fighting it out for the year-end world number one spot, edged closer to a possible Paris Masters final clash as both eased into the last four on Friday.

The 33-year-old Nadal, who can secure the end-of-year top ranking ahead of Djokovic by winning his maiden Bercy title, beat French wildcard Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.

Nadal is bidding for a record-extending 36th Masters crown and will take on Denis Shapovalov in the last four on Saturday after the Canadian youngster thrashed Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-2.

The Spaniard has reached the semis for the first time at the event since 2013, having withdrawn injured before the quarter-finals on his last appearance in 2017.

“I’ve had a lot of injuries in this tournament (historically),” said Nadal. “I’m happy to be back in the semi-finals.”

Djokovic had earlier crushed seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-1, 6-2 and will next face Grigor Dimitrov, who saw off unseeded Chilean Cristian Garin 6-2, 7-5.

Nadal has now reached 73 Masters semi-finals in total and is two wins away from his 85th ATP title, but only third indoors.

Tsonga was rock solid on serve in a first set which did not see a single service game from either player even reach deuce.

But second seed Nadal stepped it up in the tie-break, with two incredible winners on the run helping him take a crucial one-set lead.

Tsonga’s serve briefly deserted him in the second game of the second set, as successive double faults allowed Nadal to claim the first break of the match and he then sped to victory.

Djokovic swats aside Tsitsipas

Djokovic said he played “one of his best matches of the season” to thrash Tsitsipas.

The 32-year-old dispatched his Greek opponent in only 58 minutes.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion went into the match with a 2-1 losing record against Tsitsipas, but put the young world number seven in his place with a commanding victory.

“I played one of the best matches of the season,” said Djokovic. “I prepared myself very well for this match.

“I lost to Stefanos about three weeks ago in Shanghai. And obviously I went through the videos and understanding of what I did well, what I didn’t do so well, what I can do better.”

Djokovic will be usurped by Nadal at the top of the rankings next week, but can ensure the race to be the best player at the end of the year reaches the ATP Tour Finals in London by winning a fifth Paris Masters title.

The defeat ended Tsitsipas’ run of three consecutive semi-finals and dealt a blow to his confidence ahead of his maiden appearance at the season-ending championships, which start on November 10.

Djokovic holds an 8-1 winning head-to-head record against Dimitrov.

“He (Dimitrov) has been one of the best talents we had in the sport in the last decade,” said Djokovic, who is bidding to tie Pete Sampras’ record of finishing as the year-end number one on six occasions.

“He’s been playing some terrific tennis this week… I don’t play too bad myself, so it’s going to be for sure a good one.”

Dimitrov marches on

Former world number three Dimitrov last reached the semis at a Masters tournament in Monte Carlo in 2018 but has rediscovered his form in recent weeks after heading into the US Open ranked 78th.

The Bulgarian became the lowest-ranked player to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since 2008 at Flushing Meadows, before losing to Daniil Medvedev.

World number 42 Garin, playing in his first Masters quarter-final, served for the second set at 5-4, but the 28-year-old Dimitrov reeled off three straight games to claim an impressive victory.

Shapovalov cruised into the fourth Masters semi-final of his young career by ending Monfils’ bid to reach the ATP Finals.

Home favourite Monfils was one victory away from pipping Italian Matteo Berrettini to a ticket to London but was blown away by a brilliant Shapovalov performance.

“He (Berrettini) had better give me a bottle of wine or something,” joked world number 28 Shapovalov.

AFP

Djokovic Tops ATP Rankings As Murray Climbs Over 200 Places

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts following a point against Belgium’s David Goffin in their men’s singles semi-final match at the Japan Open tennis tournament in Tokyo on October 5, 2019./AFP

 

Former world number one Andy Murray climbed over 200 places in the new ATP rankings released on Monday while Novak Djokovic extended his lead over Rafael Nadal at the top. 

Scotsman Murray, who is on the comeback trail after career-saving hip surgery, reached the quarter-finals of the China Open where he lost to eventual winner Dominic Thiem.

The run lifted the 32-year-old 214 places from 503 in the world to 289.

He can climb into the top 250 if he beats Juan Ignacio Londero later on Monday in the first round of the Shanghai Masters where Murray is a three-time champion.

Djokovic’s win in Tokyo at the weekend means the Serb is at number one for the 271st week of his career, one more than Ivan Lendl and trailing only Roger Federer (310) and Pete Sampras (286).

Djokovic heads to Shanghai as defending champion while Nadal, his closest pursuer 1,140 points behind, has had to pull out with a wrist injury he picked up during last month’s Laver Cup.

Thiem’s victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Beijing sees the Austrian close to just 50 points behind the Russian Daniil Medvedev.

ATP Rankings as of October 7:

1. Novak Djokovic (SRB) 10,365 pts

2. Rafael Nadal (ESP) 9,225

3. Roger Federer (SUI) 7,130

4. Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 4,965

5. Dominic Thiem (AUT) 4,915

6. Alexander Zverev (GER) 4,185

7. Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 3,630

8. Kei Nishikori (JPN) 3,040

9. Karen Khachanov (RUS) 2,945

10. Roberto Bautista (ESP) 2,575

11. Gael Monfils (FRA) 2,375

12. Fabio Fognini (ITA) 2,280

13. Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 2,221

14. David Goffin (BEL) 2,190 (+1)

15. Borna Coric (CRO) 2,130 (-1)

16. Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 1,995

17. John Isner (USA) 1,895 (+2)

18. Kevin Anderson (RSA) 1,780

19. Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 1,719 (+1)

20. Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 1,670 (+1)

AFP

UPDATED: Nadal Wins Five-Set US Open Final Thriller, 19th Grand Slam

Nadal celebrates with the 2019 US Open men’s championship trophy at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the Queens borough of New York City on September 08, 2019. Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

 

Rafael Nadal captured his 19th career Grand Slam title in thrilling fashion on Sunday by winning the US Open final, outlasting Russia’s Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 to seize his fourth crown in New York.

The 33-year-old Spanish left-hander moved one shy of Roger Federer’s all-time men’s record 20 Grand Slam triumphs and became the second-oldest New York champion in the Open era after Ken Rosewall in 1970 at age 35.

World number two Nadal took the top prize of $3.85 million at Arthur Ashe Stadium and added to his US Open trophy haul from 2010, 2013 and 2017.

Nadal, who was in his fifth US Open championship match and 27th Grand Slam final, is the first man to claim five major titles after turning 30.

But it took a supreme effort from the Spanish maestro, who nearly became the first player to drop the final after leading by two sets since Frederick Schroeder in 1949.

At some point, it looked as if victory was certain to slip away from Nadal Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images/AFP

 

Nadal, who rose to 22-12 in five-set matches, has dropped only one Grand Slam match out of more than 200 when he has won the first two sets, the loss coming at the hands of Italy’s Fabio Fognini in the 2015 US Open third round.

At four hours and 50 minutes, the match finished four minutes shy of equaling the longest final in US Open history from Mats Wilander’s 1988 win and Andy Murray’s 2012 title.

It was the second Slam title of the year for Nadal after taking his 12th French Open crown in June.

In addition to reaching the brink of Federer’s mark, Nadal moved one shy of the Open era record five US Open titles won by Federer, Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras.

Nadal celebrates his hard-fought victory  Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images/AFP

 

Nadal, who won his only prior meeting with Medvedev in last month’s Montreal final, seldom looked threatened after being broken early in the match.

The Spaniard stretched his win streak over Russians to 20 matches since losing to Nikolay Davydenko in the 2011 Doha semi-finals.

Fifth seed Medvedev, 23, battled throughout his first Grand Slam final but could not become the youngest men’s Grand Slam champion since Juan Martin del Potro at the 2009 US Open, falling to 0-5 in five-set matches.

Medvedev, who saw his career-best 12-match win streak snapped, would have been the first Russian to win a Grand Slam title since Marat Safin at the 2005 Australian Open and the first Russian to win the US Open since Safin in 2000.

At 6-foot-6 (1.98m), Medvedev also would have matched Marin Cilic and del Potro as the tallest champion in US Open history.

Daniil Medvedev battled hard, rallying to overturn a two-set deficit before being outdone in the fifth set. Photo. Elsa/Getty Images/AFP

 

Electric fifth set

Nadal saved a breakpoint in the second game of the fourth set when Medvedev netted a backhand and a huge Nadal chant roared from the stands.

Medvedev denied Nadal on two break chances in the fifth game as the tension built. Then Nadal was broken in the 10th game to drop the set, Medvedev blasting a backhand return winner to complete a five-point run to force a fifth set.

Nadal battled through the second game of the final set, denying three Medvedev break chances to hold.

Nadal fired a backhand volley winner to break Medvedev for a 3-2 lead, stretching to reach the Russian’s drop volley and flicking a winner that brought a roar from the crowd.

Chants of “Ra-fa” echoed through the stadium as he held to 4-2 and Medvedev sent an overhead smash beyond the baseline to hand the Spaniard a break for a 5-2 edge.

Nadal served for the match but Medvedev took a break to 5-3 when umpire Ali Nili issued Nadal a time violation for his first serve and the Spaniard sent his second serve long, the crowd booing Nili for his violation call.

Nadal had two break and match points in the ninth game, but Medvedev fired a backhand winner and Nadal netted a forehand return as the Russian held to 5-4 and the drama intensified.

Again serving for the match, Nadal rescued a breakpoint then hit a forehand drop volley for his third match point chance and took the victory when Medvedev sent a forehand return long.

Nadal screamed and fell to the court on his back after the epic showdown.

This year’s US Open set an all-time attendance record with 737,872 fans watching over the Flushing Meadows fortnight.

Rafael Nadal (R) alongside finalist Daniil Medvedev (L) and tennis champion Rod Laver (C) during the trophy presentation ceremony. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images/AFP

AFP

Federer, Nadal And The All-Time Men’s Grand Slam Winners

Nadal Wins Five-Set US Open Final Thriller, 19th Grand Slam
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates with the 2019 US Open championship trophy. Al Bello/Getty Images/AFP

 

Here are the all-time Grand Slam men’s win leaders after Sunday’s US Open final:

Roger Federer (SUI) 20

Australian Open: 6 (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018)

French Open: 1 (2009)

Wimbledon: 8 (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2017)

US Open: 5 (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)

Rafael Nadal (ESP) 19

Australian Open: 1 (2009)

French Open: 12 (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019)

Wimbledon: 2 (2008, 2010)

US Open: 4 (2010, 2013, 2017, 2019)

Novak Djokovic (SRB) 16

Australian Open: 7 (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019)

French Open: 1 (2016)

Wimbledon: 5 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019)

US Open: 3 (2011, 2015, 2018)

Pete Sampras (USA) 14

Australian Open: 2 (1994, 1997)

French Open: 0

Wimbledon: 7 (1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000)

US Open: 5 (1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2002)

Roy Emerson (AUS) 12

Australian Open: 6 (1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967)

French Open: 2 (1963, 1967)

Wimbledon: 2 (1964, 1965)

US Open: 2 (1961, 1964)

AFP

Medvedev Fights Back To Force Fifth Set In US Open Final

Daniil Medvedev returns a shot during the fourth set of the match against Rafael Nadal. Elsa/Getty Images/AFP

 

Daniil Medvedev rallied from two sets down to send Sunday’s US Open final against 18-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal into a fifth set.

The Russian fifth seed broke Nadal with a sublime backhand return winner in the 10th game of the fourth set to take it 6-4 and keep alive his bid for a first Grand Slam title.

Nadal had raced to a two-set lead against the Russian fifth seed, winning the first set 7-5 and the second set 6-3.

The 33-year-old Spanish left-hander came into the match chasing his 19th career Grand Slam singles title, and his fifth championship match on the New York hardcourts.

It was all on course until Medvedev, 23, rallied to claim the third set 5-7, before forcing a fifth with a 6-4 triumph in the fourth set.

Victory would mark a first major title for the Russian.

Nadal is Medvedev’s fourth left-handed foe of the tournament and after a shaky start, he seem to have a better bearing of how to play the legendary Spaniard.

“It’s really unusual. I think this year before I’ve played like three lefties in all the year,” Medvedev said before the game. “Now I’ve played already three this tournament. Just amazing. But of course it helps a lot that I played three lefties before with completely different style. Kind of getting used to it. It’s going to help me.”

Medvedev had also envisaged that he might have an edge in having faced Nadal in Canada, even in defeat.

“It was a tough one,” Medvedev said. “His energy was much higher than mine. He kind of, I would say, had eaten me on the court.

“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.”

Medvedev Wins Third Set Of US Open Final

Daniil Medvedev of Russia returns a shot during against Rafael Nadal of Spain during the game at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 08, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York City. Emilee Chinn/Getty Images/AFP

 

Daniil Medvedev claimed the third set 7-5 against Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s US Open final to stall the Spaniard’s bid for a 19th Grand Slam title.

Nadal claimed the first two sets against the Russian fifth seed but Medvedev, a first-time Grand Slam finalist, broke his rival in the 12th game to send the championship match to a fourth set.

READ ALSO: Nadal Takes Two-Set Lead In US Open Final

Nadal Takes Two-Set Lead In US Open Final

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates a point during the match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 08, 2019. AFP Photo.

 

Rafael Nadal has grabbed a two-set lead against Russian fifth seed Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s US Open final after winning the second set 6-3. Nadal won the first set 7-5.

The 33-year-old Spanish left-hander came into the match chasing his 19th career Grand Slam singles title, one shy of Roger Federer’s all-time men’s record, in his 27th Slam final and his fifth championship match on the New York hardcourts.

“(I am) very happy for everything. Another final of the Grand Slam and another final here in Flushing Meadows means a lot to me,” Nadal said ahead of the game.

“I feel comfortable here, I like the atmosphere, I like the crowd. I feel a big energy when I’m playing in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Thanks to the crowd because I feel a big support from them all the time. That’s important for me.”

Nadal, who made the semi-finals at all four Slams for the first season since 2008, captured his 12th French Open title in June, lost the Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic and fell to Federer in the Wimbledon semi-finals.

And while he has dropped only one set in the Flushing Meadows fortnight, Nadal is facing the hottest player on tour in fifth-ranked Medvedev, who at 23 could become the first Slam winner born in the 1990s.

Medvedev has produced a stunning six weeks on hardcourts: reaching the Washington final, losing the Montreal final to Nadal in their only prior meeting, winning the title at Cincinnati while Nadal rested and now charging into his first Grand Slam final.

“It is a super-tough final. I need to be playing at my best,” Nadal said. “I think at the end of the (semi-final) match I increased my level again. I need to hold this level if I want to have chances on Sunday. If not, is so difficult. He is very, very solid.”

Medvedev leads the ATP in season wins and has battled through four four-set wins at the US Open.

“All his season is amazing,” Nadal said. “Is the player who is in better shape on tour. I will face the player who is winning more matches of the year and the player who is playing on the highest level since a while.”

Medvedev sees Nadal as super-human.

“Talking about Rafa, it’s tough to find words,” Medvedev said. “He’s one of the greatest champions in the history of our sport. He’s just a machine, a beast on the court.

“The energy he’s showing is just amazing. To play him in your first Grand Slam final should be, I want to say, a funny thing. It’s not going to be a funny thing, but it’s going to be an amazing thing to live.”

Hearing of Medvedev’s praise, Nadal responded: “Always is beautiful to hear nice things from your colleagues. Happy for that. Just I hope to be like this on Sunday. I will need it.”

Nadal Wins First Set Of US Open Final

Rafael Nadal of reacts during the 2019 US Open men’s Singles Finals match against Daniil Medvedev of Russia at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 8, 2019. Johannes EISELE / AFP

 

Rafael Nadal claimed the opening set of Sunday’s US Open final against Daniil Medvedev 7-5 in the Spaniard’s pursuit of a 19th Grand Slam singles title.

The 33-year-old Nadal is seeking a fourth US Open crown — after wins in 2010, 2013 and 2017 — while Russian fifth seed Medvedev is appearing in his first major final.

READ ALSO: Nadal Chases 19th Grand Slam Title Against Medvedev

US Open: Nadal Chases 19th Grand Slam Title Against Medvedev

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates his victory over Matteo Berrettini of Italy during their Singles Men’s Semi-finals match at the 2019 US Open on September 6, 2019. Johannes EISELE / AFP

 

Rafael Nadal looks to cap one of his greatest Grand Slam years with his fourth US Open title when he faces Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s final at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 33-year-old Spanish left-hander chases his 19th career Grand Slam singles title, one shy of Roger Federer’s all-time men’s record, in his 27th Slam final and his fifth championship match on the New York hardcourts.

“(I am) very happy for everything. Another final of the Grand Slam and another final here in Flushing Meadows means a lot to me,” Nadal said.

“I feel comfortable here, I like the atmosphere, I like the crowd. I feel a big energy when I’m playing in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Thanks to the crowd because I feel a big support from them all the time. That’s important for me.”

Nadal, who made the semi-finals at all four Slams for the first season since 2008, captured his 12th French Open title in June, lost the Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic and fell to Federer in the Wimbledon semi-finals.

And while he has dropped only one set in the Flushing Meadows fortnight, Nadal is facing the hottest player on tour in fifth-ranked Medvedev, who at 23 could become the first Slam winner born in the 1990s.

Medvedev has produced a stunning six weeks on hardcourts: reaching the Washington final, losing the Montreal final to Nadal in their only prior meeting, winning the title at Cincinnati while Nadal rested and now charging into his first Grand Slam final.

“It is a super-tough final. I need to be playing at my best,” Nadal said. “I think at the end of the (semi-final) match I increased my level again. I need to hold this level if I want to have chances on Sunday. If not, is so difficult. He is very, very solid.”

Medvedev leads the ATP in season wins and has battled through four four-set wins at the US Open.

“All his season is amazing,” Nadal said. “Is the player who is in better shape on tour. I will face the player who is winning more matches of the year and the player who is playing on the highest level since a while.”

Medvedev sees Nadal as super-human.

“Talking about Rafa, it’s tough to find words,” Medvedev said. “He’s one of the greatest champions in the history of our sport. He’s just a machine, a beast on the court.

“The energy he’s showing is just amazing. To play him in your first Grand Slam final should be, I want to say, a funny thing. It’s not going to be a funny thing, but it’s going to be an amazing thing to live.”

Hearing of Medvedev’s praise, Nadal responded: “Always is beautiful to hear nice things from your colleagues. Happy for that. Just I hope to be like this on Sunday. I will need it.”

Medvedev knows lefties

Nadal will be Medvedev’s fourth left-handed foe of the tournament.

“It’s really unusual. I think this year before I’ve played like three lefties in all the year,” Medvedev said. “Now I’ve played already three this tournament. Just amazing. But of course it helps a lot that I played three lefties before with completely different style. Kind of getting used to it. It’s going to help me.”

Medvedev also sees an edge in having faced Nadal in Canada, even in defeat.

“It was a tough one,” Medvedev said. “His energy was much higher than mine. He kind of, I would say, eaten me on the court.

“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.”

Nadal sees little to take from a windy Montreal win given the likely lack of breezes in the big stadium.

“Here the wind is not there. Of course, it helps little bit,” Nadal said. “But I think he’s making the steps forward every single day.”

AFP

Nadal Chases 19th Slam Crown Against Medvedev At US Open

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a shot during his Men’s Singles semi-final match against Matteo Berrettini of Italy on day twelve of the 2019 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 06, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York City. Al Bello/Getty Images/AFP

 

Rafael Nadal looks to cap one of his greatest Grand Slam years with his fourth US Open title when he faces Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s final at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 33-year-old Spanish left-hander chases his 19th career Grand Slam singles title, one shy of Roger Federer’s all-time men’s record, in his 27th Slam final and his fifth championship match on the New York hardcourts.

“Very happy for everything. Another final of the Grand Slam and another final here in Flushing Meadows means a lot to me,” Nadal said.

“I feel comfortable here, I like the atmosphere, I like the crowd. I feel a big energy when I’m playing in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Thanks to the crowd because I feel a big support from them all the time. That’s important for me.”

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Nadal, who made the semi-finals at all four Slams for the first season since 2008, captured his 12th French Open title in June, lost the Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic and fell to Federer in the Wimbledon semi-finals.

And while he has dropped only one set in the Flushing Meadows fortnight, Nadal is facing the hottest player on tour in fifth-ranked Medvedev, who at 23 could become the first Slam winner born in the 1990s.

Medvedev has produced a stunning six weeks on hardcourts: reaching the Washington final, losing the Montreal final to Nadal in their only prior meeting, winning the title at Cincinnati while Nadal rested and now charging into his first Grand Slam final.

“Is a super tough final. I need to be playing at my best,” Nadal said. “I think at the end of the (semi-final) match I increased my level again. I need to hold this level if I want to have chances on Sunday. If not, is so difficult. He is very, very solid.”

Medvedev leads the ATP in season wins and has battled through four four-set wins at the US Open.

“All his season is amazing,” Nadal said. “Is the player who is in better shape on tour. I will face the player who is winning more matches of the year and the player who is playing on the highest level since a while.”

Medvedev sees Nadal as super-human.

“Talking about Rafa, it’s tough to find words,” Medvedev said. “He’s one of the greatest champions in the history of our sport. He’s just a machine, a beast on the court.

“The energy he’s showing is just amazing. To play him in your first Grand Slam final should be, I want to say, a funny thing. It’s not going to be a funny thing, but it’s going to be an amazing thing to live.”

Hearing of Medvedev’s praise, Nadal responded: “Always is beautiful to hear nice things from your colleagues. Happy for that. Just I hope to be like this on Sunday. I will need it.”

Medvedev knows lefties 

Nadal will be Medvedev’s fourth left-handed foe of the tournament.

“It’s really unusual. I think this year before I’ve played like three lefties in all the year,” Medvedev said. “Now I’ve played already three this tournament. Just amazing. But of course it helps a lot that I played three lefties before with completely different style. Kind of getting used to it. It’s going to help me.”

Medvedev also sees an edge in having faced Nadal in Canada, even in defeat.

“It was a tough one,” Medvedev said. “His energy was much higher than mine. He kind of, I would say, eaten me on the court.

“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.”

Nadal sees little to take from a windy Montreal win given the likely lack of breezes in the big stadium.

“Here the wind is not there. Of course, helps little bit,” Nadal said. “But I think he’s making the steps forward every single day.”

AFP