Medvedev: “Huge Respect” For History-Maker Nadal

  • Posted: Jan 30, 2022

Up against an all-time legend on the brink of history, Daniil Medvedev came oh-so-close to spoiling Rafael Nadal’s chase for major title No. 21.

The World No. 2 led the Spaniard by two sets in Sunday’s Australian Open final before an inspired Nadal roared back for a thrilling 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 victory on Rod Laver Arena.

“[I have] huge respect for Rafa,” said Medvedev in his post-match press conference. “Huge respect for beating me because I tried my best.”

The Russian was particularly impressed with how Nadal handled the pressure knowing he was trying to achieve something no male player had before.

“The way he managed to play throughout all these sets, even in the tough moments, for him it was for making history,” said Medvedev. “For sure he tried not to think about it, but it must have been somewhere in his head.”

Earlier, during the trophy ceremony, Medvedev had highlighted the physical prowess of the Spaniard as a key decider in the marathon encounter.

“[It’s] tough to talk after five hours, 30 minutes and losing, but I want to congratulate Rafa because what he did today, I was amazed,” said Medvedev. “I tried during the match just to play tennis, but after the match I asked him, ‘Are you tired?’, because it was insane.”

Medvedev added that the level was “very high” before addressing Nadal directly. “You raised your level after two sets for the 21st Grand Slam. I thought you were going to get tired, maybe you did just a little but still won the match,” said Medvedev. “You’re an amazing champion.”

Despite coming painfully close to picking up consecutive Grand Slam titles after his maiden major win at the US Open last September, the Russian was not downbeat about his own performance in the Melbourne final. “I’m not that disappointed,” said Medvedev. “It was a huge match, for sure some small points, small details that I could have done better if I wanted to win. But that’s tennis. That’s life.”

Medvedev explained how he tried to make Nadal run in the fifth set. But it was to no avail.

“He was really strong, even at four hours,” said Medvedev. “He didn’t play for six months. He told me after the match that he hadn’t practised much. It was unreal.”

The Russian also refused to dwell on the three break points he held on the Nadal serve when 3-2 up in the third set, opportunities that ultimately got away from him. “I don’t remember all of [the break points] in detail, but I remember that I made all three returns,” said Medvedev. “Just got a little bit tight. But, again, that’s tennis. Should have done better. Should have hit a winner. Maybe would have won the match.”

Medvedev still holds great belief in the methods that have taken him to No. 2 in the ATP Rankings and has already identified his areas for improvement for next time. “Tactically nothing changed. I feel like I was playing right, but Rafa stepped up,” said Medvedev. “The only thing was he was stronger than me physically today. There were some shots and points where I was a little bit on the back foot. Rafa takes control of these moments.”

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