NEW YORK, September 7, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)
Russia’s Daniil Medvedev will play Spain’s Rafael Nadal in the 2019 US Open men’s singles final on Sunday. The World No. 5 defeated Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in their semi-final in the top-half. In the bottom half of the draw, as expected, Nadal came through with a win over Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.
In the first semi-final of the day, the 23-year-old Moscow native won 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and 38 minutes. Dimitrov had his chances, despite going on the backfoot in the initial moments of the match. But Medvedev’s sly game kept him ahead of his 28-year-old rival on all fronts. As a result, although the match was not cut and dry – Medvedev had eight double faults and hit 46 unforced errors – it was the player with relatively more inconsistencies who ended up losing.
Both players had nine break point chances but Medvedev converted five of these to the former World No. 3’s three. Likewise, he also had 16 fewer winners to the World No. 78 – 22 to 39. But in terms of the final tally of points won, the Monte Carlo resident finished with 113 points to Dimitrov’s 101.
Medvedev is the first Russian man since Marat Safin to reach the final at Flushing Meadows. Safin did so in 2000, defeating USA’s Pete Sampras to win his first Major. Medvedev is also the first male player from his country, after Safin, to reach a Major final (Safin, 2005 Australian Open).
Speaking about his achievement, Medvedev said after the win, “I have to say I love the USA!” Continuing, he added, “This summer’s been, I should say, so fast and so long at the same time. Long because I’ve played so many matches. At the same time so fast because I didn’t have a moment to sit down and look back and say, ‘Okay, I’ve done some amazing things.’ Hopefully, I will have some time after Sunday.”
The 2019 Cincinnati Open champion is now 20-2 in the summer hard-courts’ swing. He is also the third male player to reach the US Open final after making it to the finals of the Citi Open, Rogers Cup, and the Cincinnati Open in the same season. The two men to do so before him were Ivan Lendl in 1982, and Andre Agassi in 1995.
Nadal’s record-equalling win
Meanwhile, in records’ galore, Nadal joined Roger Federer as the only other man to reach at least five finals of all four Slams. In his match against Medvedev’s coeval, the Mallorcan won 7-6(6), 6-4, 6-1 in two hours and 35 minutes to his reach his fifth final at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Berrettini gave a stiff fight to the 33-year-old opponent in the first set, taking a quick 4-0 lead in the tie-break. He also had two set points to win the set. However, Nadal turned it around impose himself on the scoreboard, and on the match’s proceedings. The Rome native’s 44 unforced errors contributed to his undoing further, in spite of hitting six more winners than Nadal (37 to 31). Nadal went to end the match with 111 points, 29 more than his younger rival.
The victory puts the Manacor native just one title away from Federer’s 20 Slams’ hauls in what will be his 27th appearance in the final of a Slam.
The momentousness of the occasion aside, Nadal downplayed the achievement in his interaction with the media after his win. “Before playing the final is not the moment to be super happy. Of course, finally when the tournament finishes, if you lose, when you’re looking global perspective, okay. But now is a moment to enjoy today. But [there] is a match in front on Sunday, an important one. I just focus on trying to be 100 per cent ready for it. But, of course, very, very happy for everything. Another final of the Grand Slam, and another final here in Flushing Meadows means a lot to me,” he said.
Against Medvedev, Nadal will be carrying a 1-0 lead in their head-to-head courtesy of his win over the youngster at the Rogers Cup in Montreal this year.
The men’s singles final is set.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 7, 2019