US Open 2019 Men's singlesThe young Russian pushes Rafa to the brink

by Roger Childs

Back in early August Daniil Medvedev reached the final of the Canadian Open in Toronto. His opponent was Rafael Nadal who proceeded to thrash him 6-3, 6-0. Fast forward a month and the two met again in US Open final. 

Another easy win to the Spaniard looked a certainty when Nadal was ahead 7-5, 6-4 and broke the Russian’s serve to go 3-2 up in the third set. However Medvedev fought back to take this set 7-5, and the next one 6-4. The packed Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows expected to be home for dinner, but it was now going to be a late supper.

Nadal broke the Russian’s early in the deciding set and raced out to a 5-1 lead. But Medvedev came back again to 4-5 and had a break point to even the game score. However, he couldn’t convert and Nadal ran out the winner in 4 hours and 45 minutes. 

The greats and up and comers

US Open USA TodayRoger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have taken the last 12 grand slams. They are all in their thirties but show no sign of slowing down. With 19 majors in total, Rafa who has won two this year, is now just one behind the Swiss maestro. The Joker who won the other two in 2019, is four behind Fed.

There are some very good young players in the chasing pack – people like Dominic Thiem, Stephanos Tsitsipas, Grigor Dimitrov, Mateo Berrettini, Denis Shapovalov, and Medvedev. The latter has now risen to fourth in the world rankings behind the big three. All of these players have had their moments in ATP finals and occasionally beaten one or more of the big three, but their problem is consistency.

US open 2019 Men's singles 1Seven years ago, The Times tennis reporter Simon Barnes wrote of Andy Murray seeking the seemingly impossible target of a grand slam victory having made a major error in being born … at a time when three players of undisputed all-time greatness are all plying their trade. 

It is still true in 2019, but maybe the chasers are closing up – in Sunday’s final Medvedev went close to toppling the great Spaniard.