Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev chase history in Australian Open final – San Bernardino Sun

By JOHN PYE Writer AP Sports

MELBOURNE, Australia – Since Wimbledon ended last July, there has been too much talk in tennis about the first man to win 21 Grand Slam titles.

The focus is almost entirely on Novak Djokovic’s bid; There is almost no such thing for Rafael Nadal.

With the first Grand Slam title of 2022 determined on Sunday (late Saturday night Pacific time), Nadal is one match away.

He will play the Australian Open final against US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, who is aiming for consecutive major titles and his own, albeit smaller, piece of history.

Too long in the making, too many months off the tournament for Nadal, and too much drama surrounding Djokovic’s expulsion the night before his Australian Open title defense begins, causing The race for 21 people becomes much more attractive.

Nadal, just last month, wasn’t even sure if he would arrive in Australia after hours of fatigue and active recovery from a never-completely curable foot injury and a bout of COVID-19.

“For me, it’s all about the Australian Open more than anything else,” said Nadal. “Honestly, for me, having a chance to play tennis is much more important than winning round 21, isn’t it?”

Record-bound Nadal, 20, in the absence of Djokovic – the nine-time Australian Open champion had his visa revoked for failing to meet the country’s strict COVID-19 requirements – and Roger Federer, who is still recovering from surgery on his right knee.

Nadal has turned 20 with the French Open title in 2020. Federer, now 40, has been stuck in 20th place since winning the 2018 Australian title. Djokovic moved from 17th to 20th with the titles. titles in Australia, Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2021. He was on a winning streak from reaching 21st place – and completing a Grand Slam in the calendar year – until he lost to Medvedev in the US Open final.

“Yes, I will play again with one of the greatest. And the funny thing is, again, I’m going to play someone who’s going to win their 21st Slam,” Medvedev said in a televised on-field interview following a sizzling win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-final . “I guess Rafa watched (the US Open final) near the TV. … I don’t know who he’s cheering for. I think Novak will watch this too! ”

Medvedev lost to Nadal in five sets in the 2019 US Open final – his first at a Grand Slam – and lost to Djokovic in a straight set in the Australian Open final 2021, before beating the Serbian star in a straight set in New York in September.

Any debate over which of the Three Players is considered the greatest is of no concern to him.

“It’s a big rivalry between them,” Medvedev said. “I will be honest. … It’s not that I go to the 21st, I’m not trying to break these records. I’m going for my second one.

“I know what Rafa will do, I know what Novak will do. I’m not going to say ‘Oh, yeah, I’m trying not to hear about this.’ But that’s their business, not mine. I was just there trying to win the final.”

Nadal is also trying to block out all the noise. He has said many times that this Australian Open is his main focus, and his work and life’s meaning will ultimately not be overshadowed by who ends up with the most trophies. .

He hasn’t changed anything about his extreme competitiveness on the court, which, he says, is embedded in his DNA. But he is now more conscious of being grateful to be back on tour after times when he thought a foot problem could soon end his tennis career.

“Because that’s what makes me happier about living together… being able to do what I enjoy doing more than winning another Grand Slam,” he said. “Life, it’s about happiness and what makes me happy. It’s just having the opportunity to do what I love to do. “

Medvedev had a tantrum at the referee during a semi-final substitution and then regained his composure to beat Tsitispas.

He described as “emotional” running in Australia, including facing a hostile crowd in a second-round win over Nick Kyrgios, and having to save a match point and rally from two sets down. to beat Felix Auger-Aliassime by almost five hours in the quarterfinals.

After beating Denis Shapovalov in a lengthy quarter-final, Nadal had a relatively tense 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory over seventh seed Matteo Berrettini, who lost to Djokovic in Wimbledon final last year. Nadal skipped Wimbledon after losing to Djokovic in the French Open semi-finals, and he hasn’t played a single time since August.

Nadal even broke down in tears after confirming a place in the 29th Grand Slam final.

Since winning the title here in 2009, he has lost in classic five-set finals to Djokovic in ’12 and Federer five years later. His other losses were to Stan Wawrinka (2014) and Djokovic (2019).

“I’ve been a bit unlucky (here) in my career with some injuries (and) I’ve played some great finals with good chances,” he said. “I feel very lucky to have won once. I never thought about another opportunity in 2022.”

https://www.sbsun.com/2022/01/29/rafael-nadal-daniil-medvedev-chase-history-in-australian-open-final/ Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev chase history in Australian Open final – San Bernardino Sun

Tom Vazquez

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