Rafael Nadal withstood an almighty scare from fifth seed Daniil Medvedev to win his fourth US Open trophy.
The 33-year-old saw a two-set lead come and go before holding his nerve to prevail 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, in a thriller that consisted of 341 points being played. Engaging in some gut-busting baseline exchanges against one of the rising stars of the game. Medvedev, who is 10 years younger than Nadal, was contesting his fourth final in a row on the tour after Washington, Canada and Cincinnati. Something that had only previously been achieved by Ivan Lendl (1982) and Andre Agassi (1995). Nevertheless, it was the king of clay that narrowly came out on top with the help of 75 winners to 57 unforced errors.
“It was an amazing final. It seemed like I had the match more or less under control.” Said Nadal.
“The first words I have to say is to Daniil. His summer is one of the best summer’s I have seen (on the tour) in my career.’
“Tonight everybody has seen why he is the number four player (as of Monday) in the world.”
Coming into the match Nadal had only been broken six times in the entire tournament. However, a dramatic start to the final saw the Spaniard receive a penalty for a time violation in his first game before he got broken in the third. Prompting him to criticize the umpire by describing the penalty as ‘a bit too much.’ Despite the minor controversy, Nadal managed to regain his footing in the opener. Eventually breaking back to level 2-2 before winning 16 consecutive points behind his serve. Meanwhile, a heavy-hitting Medvedev refused to be intimidated in his maiden grand slam final. Continuing to weather the storm, Nadal edged his way to the 7-5 lead. Doing so with the help of a lob which drew an error from the Russian.
In front Nadal continued to wear down his weary opponent, who had taping on both his leg and arm. Medvedev has enjoyed a stellar summer where he has played 22 matches over a six-week period, winning 20 of those. In comparison Nadal had played 11 matches and won them all. Continuing to engage in some lengthy baseline rallies, the Spaniard got his next breakthrough midway through the second set. A deep return of his rival’s serve forced him to hit the ball into the net on break point. Elevating the 33-year-old to a 4-2 lead. Continuing to dictate proceedings, it wasn’t long before the two-set lead was his. Clinching it at the expense of two consecutive Medvedev forehand shots the drifted beyond the baseline.
The fight back
It looked as if Nadal would seal victory with ease after claiming another break in the third frame. However, what he didn’t expect was an extraordinary comeback from Medvedev. The Russian somehow managed to conjure up his best form with the help of numerous serves and volleying. In sets three and four Medvedev’s audacious play draw praise from the crowd, which viewed him as a villain earlier in the tournament. In both of those sets, he broke at the business end.
“To be honest, in my mind, I was already thinking about what to say in my speech. It was going to be soon in 20 minutes. Losing in three sets my first final, trying to give a fight, but not really.” Medvedev recalled.
“I had to fight for every ball and see how it goes. It (the match) went further, but unfortunately it didn’t go my way.”
Heading into the decider, the encounter resembled a boxing match with each player suffering their own blows. Still the warrior-like fighting from both men continued as Medvedev sought treatment for his right leg. It was Nadal, who would get the first blow after breaking twice en route to a 4-2 lead. However, Medvedev still refused to buckle down. Saving two match points to turn his 2-5 deficit to 4-5. Still, Nadal’s early attack was just enough to see him over the finish line. On his third attempt, he claimed the memorable victory with a serve down the line which was returned out across the court.
In the aftermath of the marathon encounter, tears started to flow from the eyes of the Spaniard as the stadium played a video of his greatest achievements in the sport. It resembled the retirement presentation Andy Murray had at the Australian Open, but for Nadal it was not a goodbye.
“It has been one of the most emotional nights of my career with the video, the support (of the crowd) – amazing.” Nadal reflected.
“This victory means a lot, especially with the way how the match became so difficult and tough. The nerves were so high after having the match almost under control. It was a crazy match.”
Winning multiple grand slam titles within the same season for the fifth time in his career, Nadal is now knocking on the door of Roger Federer’s all-time grand slam singles record of 20. He is currently at 19.
The clash between Nadal and Medvedev lasted for four hours and 49 minutes. Making it the third longest final in US Open history since records began in 1980.
Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days
The world No.34 says he ‘sees no reason’ why vaccinated players should have to go through a long quarentine in Australia.
The second highest-ranked Serbian player in men’s tennis says it would be ‘unacceptable’ for organisers of the Australian Open to require players to quarantine for more than a week if they have been fully vaccinated.
Filip Krajinovic has become the first player to publicly state that they will not be prepared to travel to Melbourne at the end of this season if they have to go through strict quarantine measures once again. All the players who participated in this year’s Australian Open were required to be quarantined in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival in the country. During their stay they were allowed to use training facilities but that was the only time they could leave the premises unless there was an emergency.
There is no final decision regarding the travel requirements for the 2022 tournament but there are concerns that unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country. The Victorian government recently issued a mandate ordering all essential workers to be vaccinated, including athletes. However, the regional government will not have the final say concerning tennis players arriving in the country with the national government being the ones in charge of that decision.
“They are very rigorous there and honestly, if I have to be in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Melbourne, I will not go to Australia,” Krajinovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I was vaccinated, I did everything in my power to protect myself and the people around me, so I really see no reason to sit there for 14 days in a room.’
“If they (the organisers) say that after arrival I need, say, five days to be in isolation, that’s OK for me, but anything beyond that is unacceptable to me. With the season ending late, I will have 20 days to get ready and go. Charter flights will be organized again and the last one is planned for December 28 for the players and that is the final date when I can go to Australia. I will see what the final decision from Melbourne will be, so I will cut what is the best thing to do.”
Earlier this week Victoria’s Sports minister Martin Pakula urged players to be vaccinated because it give them ‘the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open.’ It is expected that if unvaccinated players are allowed to attend, they will be subjected to stricter restrictions. This might include a longer quarantine period upon arrival and limitations of where they can go during their stay.
“Last year, all of those players had to do their 14 days of quarantine. Right now there looks like there will be different rules for people who enter this country who are vaccinated as against unvaccinated and I don’t think the tennis will be any exception to that.” Pakula told the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
“In terms of what rules apply for people to enter Australia, whether unvaccinated people are allowed in at all, I don’t the answer to that yet. That’s going to be the subject of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet … those rules are not set by state governments.” He added.
Krajinovic is currently ranked 34th in the world and has a win-loss record this season of 18-18. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells he reached the second round before falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev. His best run so far this year was at the Hamburg Open where he reached the final.
“When we look at the whole of 2021, I played one final, one semifinal, there were good victories, but also worse results,” the 29-year-old commented.
Krajinovic is currently without a coach but is currently in ‘negotiations’ with somebody without elaborating further about who that person is.
Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win
Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.
Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.
This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.
“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”
The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.
Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.
This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.
Denis Shapovalov Advances After Pospisil Retires In Indian Wells
The battle of the two Canadians didn’t go as planned…
Vasek Pospisil faced off against his fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and it was the world number 13 who got the win after the Vernon native pulled out due to an injury whilst trailing 0-3.
It was a rough start for Pospisil who seemed to struggle with his serve in the opening game of the match and double-faulted twice in a row to give the early break and Shapovalov had no issues consolidating the break.
Shapovalov continued to apply pressure on the Pospisil serve and after saving two breakpoints the world number 68 pulled up after a serve and stopped play, calling for the trainer. He ended up taking a medical timeout off the court and a couple of minutes later returned to court. Pospisil was broken once again and the following game after a couple of returns decided to call it quits.
” It was pretty awful…and if I’m being honest I am shaking a bit…It really sucks I hope it’s nothing serious…He’s a great guy he’s a real warrior he’s fought back from some injuries surgeries to such a great level.” Shapovalov said of his compatriot.
Shapovalov will face 19th seed Aslan Karatsev in the next round after the Russian thrashed Salvatore Caruso 6-2, 6-0.
In the other results of the day sixth seeed Casper Ruud dominated Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1, 6-2, Roberto Bautista Agut beat the Argentine Guido Pella 7-5, 6-3 and Sebastien Korda won an all American battle with Frances Tiafoe 6-0, 6-4.
Finally, Diego Schwartzman needed three sets to beat another American in Maxime Cressy winning 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.
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