Sep/19

9

Nadal Survives Medvedev, Captures 19th Major at US Open

Expectations for yesterday’s US Open final from Daniil Medvedev in his first major final vs all time kingpin Rafael Nadal were not the highest, as the Russian only won three games from Nadal in their recent Montreal final.

The rout was on too, with Nadal showing his superiority over the six-foot-three 23 year old, taking the first two sets 75 63.

But there was something different about this Medvedev character and it was perceived by 2000 US Open Champion Marat Safin who intelligently remarked on social media in the third set that he sensed the match was not over, Safin astutely noted that Nadal was still showing expressions of “fear and respect” for Medvedev. Safin’s observation was proven true by Medvedev, who with Nadal trying to push him off the cliff, won the third set 75 and the fourth set 64.

Medvedev’s focus and poise through the entire heavyweight slugfest were impressive. Playing arguably the fiercest, toughest competitor in the history of not only tennis but any sport, was a gargantuan task but Medvedev was up to it. Medvedev resembled Safin in his 2000 US Open victory vs Pete Sampras, machine like efficient, focused with an expression, aura and energy that quietly conveyed he EXPECTED to win.

Then the first flinches came in the middle of the fifth set. At 2-2, Medvedev was serving at 40-love and then missed a rocket forehand long, even though Nadal had conceded the point by just standing there. From there, Nadal won the next two points for deuce and then got the crucial break. Rafa held for 4-2 then Medvedev was up 30-love and bungled a lob for 40-love and ended up surrendering the second break for 5-2.

But it still wasn’t over. Medvedev broke back and almost leveled the match at 5-5 in the fifth but Nadal did what Nadal does best, finish the job of winning major titles. On championship point, Medvedev returned serve long. Nadal collapsed flat on his back, he is now 19-8 in Grand Slam finals compared to Federer’s 20-11.

Nadal’s fearlessness under pressure is what sets him apart. He is at his most dangerous, most effective and most comfortable on the most important points. Nadal serve and volleyed seven times in the fifth set, converting six.

Overall in the match, Nadal serve and volleyed 20 times. Before the final in his six matches, Nadal serve and volleyed five times, according to Brain Game stat man Craig O’Shannessy.

Not quite able to dominant the mighty Medvedev from the baseline, Nadal managed to think his way out of trouble and solved the puzzle by changing tactics and once again, performing his best tennis when it mattered most.

Nadal had nothing but high praise for his conquest. “This victory is so important for me,” said a tearful Nadal at the trophy presentation. “Especially as the match became more and more difficult. I was able to hold the nerves. They were so high. It was a crazy match and I’m just very emotional. It was an amazing final. Daniil is only 23-years-old and the way he was able to fight and change the rhythm of the match was amazing. He will have many more opportunities like this.”

“The last three hours of the match were very, very intense,” Nadal continued. “Very tough mentally and physically, too. The crowd has been as always amazing, all these facts that make the moment super special. It was an unforgettable moment. At the same time Daniil created this moment, too. The way that he fought, the way that he played, he is a champion. Just well done for him. I really believe that he will have many more chances.

“The way that the match became very dramatic at the end, that makes this day unforgettable, part of my history of this sport. I’m just very happy. This trophy means everything to me today.”

Medvedev, ten years younger than Nadal, shared a different point of view with a happy, smiling spirit despite the heartbreaking manner in which he failed in the most important match of his career. “I definitely will remember tonight,” Medvedev added. “I’m sure even talking about Rafa’s 19 Grand Slams, I’m sure he remembers his first final, even though he won it and I lost it. It was an amazing match. It’s an amazing story. All this summer is amazing for me. I will remember every moment of it. I have a really good memory if we talk about tennis. I’ll definitely remember it even when I’m 70 years old.”

Nobody who watched yesterday’s final will ever forget it, it was sports at it’s very best, comparable to the Sugar Ray Leonard vs Thomas Hearns 1981 championship boxing match.

Nadal actually may be at his very best still at age 33. Or is his very best tennis still yet to be played? Anything is possible with this racquet-wielding marvel, obsessed with an insatiable hunger to keep winning Grand Slam titles.

Photo by Wojtek Kubik

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65 comments

  • Andrew Miller · September 10, 2019 at 12:47 pm

    Toni’s out. Nadal’s agent and his dad call the shots. Toni said that. Toni’s not stupid. Rigid, but not stupid.

    Moya is employed by Nadal, Nadal’s agent Costa, and Nadal’s dad. He’s going to be nice to his employer. Nadal pays him to give good advice and play nice in the sandbox.

    Toni is thanked for his service. He did a great job. Now he’s off to other things because that’s what Nadal needs.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 10, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    If Uncle Toni was so vitally important they could bring him in for just the majors, but Moya has that covered. The academy could survive uncle Toni’s absence during majors. Moya is more important for Rafa now. Uncle Toni did a legendary job for Rafa, no one can deny that. All great coaching relationships end eventually.

  • Andrew Miller · September 10, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    Nadal did what we recommend all players do: as coaching needs change or competition changes or results change, change who’s in your ear.

    Toni’s place in history is secure. Nadal doesn’t need him because Nadal has who he needs. We can’t argue with the results, a two slam year. 19 slams. An awful clay season until it was a miraculous one. In the middle of the clay season I’m sure heads we’re about to roll.

    Moya said afterwords his job was to be Nadal’s friend. That’s sweet and nice to say. Yet why would a coach say that if that’s not their actual job. It’s called coach, who sees his job on the line, scrambles for a headline. Player reads headline.

  • catherine · September 10, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    What’s that mean Harold ?

    Dier might be a fill-in because there’s no announcement about him which you’d expect. It’s an odd time of the year to start with a new coach anyway.

    Sometimes I feel Angie likes playing the game more than actually competing these days. She’d prefer an endless practice session under blue skies with old friends.

    She’d have to change to go for titles now and I don’t think it’s there.

  • Harold · September 10, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    Moya didn’t show up at Wimby! How important is he? Were they on FaceTime at practice.

    Cmon! 15 Majors, 25 Masters. Owning the Goat! Did Moya have the secret to Djoker?

    But back to Kerber news:
    Kerber fired Dirk Dier. When her agent called to tell her about the hiring, her phone conked out after Dirk, she thought it was Dirk Nowitzki. Heard he played Juniors. And Kerber ever the prankster wanted to see if he could get his 7 foot frame into a coaches box, and if he could get his broken down NBA body from the box to her chair in the allotted time for OCC

  • Harold · September 10, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    If Moya ever pisses Nadal off, Nadals response should be…” you lost to Martin Verkerk in the QF of the French…go pick up the balls”

  • Andrew Miller · September 10, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    Harold that was funny on Moya, here’s a hopper you one time slam winner, go pick up the balls!

  • Harold · September 10, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    Nowitzki has vowed to shake up Kerbers process by starting from the end of the Match, and working backwards, as the “net hug” has become so important. He’s going to teach her how to “ hug it out” NBA style, then how to cover your mouth LeBron style,when speaking, so no one will hear her call anyone a drama queen 😭

  • Hartt · September 10, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    Apparently Youzhny will continue to coach Shapo, at least for the immediate future. That is good news.

  • catherine · September 11, 2019 at 12:56 am

    Harold – sounds to me as if Dirk Whoever He Is has been sent out to look after Angie at this difficult time and make sure she stays focussed so no more drama queens occur and she can win the odd match.

  • catherine · September 11, 2019 at 9:46 am

    Yes – that’s the truth – Dier is an interim coach from Fed Cup days and Angie picked him off the shelf to help her in Asia (or someone picked him for her). She’s also wearing her hair up – maybe she was in a hurry.

  • Bobby · September 11, 2019 at 11:42 am

    Many great points. I agree with Nadal being nice off the court and ruthless on it. In an Australian open match Federer accused him of varying his grunt noise to distract Federer. Nadal said he was unaware and never wants to bother anyone on court. Bullshit, a consistent player like Nadal who relies on opponent errors, Which come from lack of concentration, will always look to get inside a players head.

    The only way to not be intimidated on court by Nadal is to have an edge. A competitive on court hatred for him. Otherwise you will be outwarriored by him. Talk nice to him before and after match. But mirror his ruthlessness on it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Bobby, Nadal is your all time sports WOLF in SHEEP clothing.

  • Bobby · September 11, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    100% agree about the wolf in sheeps clothing.
    This is too funny not to share.
    The clip below is how Medvedev should have handled Nadal.
    https://youtu.be/t1e_zm6JHXg

  • jackson · September 12, 2019 at 3:54 am

    Andrew – ” An awful clay season until it was a miraculous one. In the middle of the clay season I’m sure heads we’re about to roll.”

    No heads were about to roll. Rafa was still fighting with injuries when clay season started. He has stated in a number of in-depth interviews that he very nearly ended his 2019 season after his first desultory match in Barcelona – that it was the first time in a match he had ever felt like he had no desire to be on the court fighting for the win. He and Moya and Roig and Costa and Maymo (his trainer) had a deep heart to heart talk and then Rafa sat in a dark quiet room for hours thinking about whether he wanted to continue playing tennis.

    The knee injury in Indian Wells when he had to withdraw from the semi-final against Fed had really done a number on his head. He had fought and fought to come back from his multiple injuries to start the year in Australia – don’t forget he didn’t play all last fall after the USO and then had surgery on his ankle in Nov. – and he finally thought he was relatively ok to play the spring swing and then he wrecked his knee in IW. The mental injury was almost worse than the physical injury.

    He went home and got treatment and a week or so before clay season he finally got back on court and practiced a bit but knew he wasn’t really ready for the most important part of his tennis year and he didn’t play up to his own standards in Monte Carlo. In Barcelona he had his breakdown and he very very nearly packed it in but finally decided that he would go back and if he was going to play he would give it his normal 150% and never play half-heartedly like he had against Mayer.

    He lost the Barcelona semi to Thiem but felt like he was getting the right attitude back so he carried on and thank goodness he did because look at what the rest of 2019 has been for him. So…no heads were going to roll Andrew. He needed his team to provide a lot of psychological help for him and they did. That’s the advantage of having the same guys on your team for many many years, some since he was 15 yrs old. They can provide a lot more help than just tactics and strategy.

    By the way, Toni is still involved. Family is hugely important to Rafa and Rafa says he talks to Toni every day but it’s more talking to him as an uncle than as a coach. But Charly Moya has said that Toni knows Rafa better than anyone else in the world does and before a big match he’ll give Rafa motivation but that Toni leaves the x and y coaching to Moya and Roig.

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