By Ros Satar & Jed Jones
- Rafael Nadal  v Daniil Medvedev 
- A win would put Nadal within one slam of Roger Federer’s total, but Medvedev could be the man to spoil the party
NEW YORK, USA – It certainly looks like the men’s title is Rafael Nadal’s to lose, but Daniil Medvedev was the in-form man of the hard-court summer – can he give it one extra push?
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The curtain comes down on thankfully a less chaotic US Open than last year, but with the hostile crowds now becoming a factor at the loudest and brashest of the Slams, could the pantomime villain Daniil Medvedev cap a stand out hard-court summer by denying Rafael Nadal the title?
Rafael Nadal’s Path to the Final
- R1: John Millman 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
- R2: Thanasi Kokkinakis W/O
- R3: Hyeon Chung 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
- R4: Marin Cilic  6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2
- QF: Diego Schwartzman  6-4, 7-5, 6-2
- SF: Matteo Berrettini  7-6(6) 6-4 6-1
Nadal edging ever closer to Roger Federer’s tally of Grand Slam titles has crept up on us, and now he is just one win away from being one Slam away. He only took in Montreal where he handed Medvedev a bit of a lesson as he cruised to the title for the loss of just three games.
Thereafter, Nadal dropped Cincy and the decision served him well as he looked in imperious form and was gifted a walkover in the second round, only so far being tested by former champion Marin Cilic who is the only man to have taken a set off him this tournament – so far.
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Daniil Medvedev’s Path to the Final
- R1: Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-4, 6-1, 6-2
- R2: Hugo Dellian 6-3, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3
- R3: Feliciano Lopez 7-6(10 4-6 7-6(7) 6-4
- R4: Dominik Koepfer 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(2)
- QF: Stan Wawrinka  7-6(6) 6-3 3-6 6-1
- SF: Grigor Dimitrov 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-3
Medvedev has been the revelation of the US hard court summer, reaching the finals of Washington and Montreal before winning his maiden Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati. As well as having put in many more hours on the court than Nadal coming into the final, he has also been ‘playing’ with the crowd using their more negative energy to fuel his wins but has at times looked quite fatigued and flirting with a growing number of injuries over the court of the tournament.
At a time when it seems like the Big Three (despite occasional absences from the final weekend) seem still like a permanent fixture, a fitter and less fatigued Medvedev might be the person to break the stranglehold.
He was schooled by Nadal in the Montreal final, and although he has won two titles this year, his record in finals is still a little ropey – four losses and twice in this particular swing, Three of those defeats have been straight sets, with a couple of bagels thrown in.
The Britwatch Debate – Writers Ros Satar & Jed Jones go head to head
Ros Satar: Three reasons why Rafael Nadal will put himself closer to the all-time Slam tally
Time on Court
Or more importantly in this case – lack of time on court. Nadal has had no choice but to be a lot more selective with his schedule given the issues his body has endured over the years. It was a wise decision to skip Cincinnati as he coasted to a Montreal Masters win, and he has been brutal in his usual bullish fashion on court.
The only man to trouble him with a set was former champion Marin Cilic, and with the benefit of a walkover two, he has barely been troubled in what has been one his easiest runs to a final.
Chasing the tally
No player will ever admit that the chase for the all-time tally of Slam titles is foremost in their minds, and this has perhaps crept up on all of us. Nadal has so long been plagued with injuries that it seemed that his best chance of staying in the mix was always at Roland Garros – but he did reach the final of the Australian Open this year, losing to Novak Djokovic, and as soon as both of them bowed out of this year’s US Open, it surely became his title to lose.
For what it is worth, I believe that all of the Big Three will end up on 20+ titles before they are done, but now it really does seem that Nadal (and not Djokovic) will be the one to chuck a spanner in the works when it comes to the Greatest of All Time debates.
Experience and fitness
Nadal has always been a bit of a specimen of muscle mass and bullish intent, and his experience will come to the fore, but he is by far the most rested of the pair. Medvedev has gone the scenic route in almost all of his matches and has been dealing with injury niggles.
Nadal on the other hand has not struggled with his cursed knees at all, and will just look to grind whatever is left of Medvedev into the ground.
Jed Jones: Medvedev is ready for that last push
Best player for the last month
Since the tour switched to hard courts, one man has been the in the latter stages of the biggest tournaments and that is Medvedev. Thanks to the Russian’s 50th win of the season he is into his fourth straight final. The 23-year-old is 20-2 since Wimbledon and is currently enjoying a remarkable 12 match winning streak which includes his Cincinnati title. Medvedev has been creating some serious momentum and it will take something huge to stop him.
Nothing to lose
Although he is in terrific form, Medvedev is the underdog going into the showpiece final – Nadal is a three-time champion after all. This could play into the world No. 5’s hands as he can go into the match with the intention of swinging freely and maximising his game plan without the added weight of expectation. The New York crowd also love an underdog and their energy could get him over the line.
Once Medvedev gets his teeth into a point he will refuse to let it go. The Russian can rally for hours if needs be and this can take a mental toll on his opponents as they know they are going to have to work extremely hard for every single point. One thing is certain in this match and that is we know Medvedev will not lose it. His style does not allow him to lose many matches and normally the opposition have to take the game away from him. An off day from Nadal is all it takes to see a new Grand Slam champion.
Who will win the US Open 2019 Men’s Single Title
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