Daniil Medvedev will know that he has a big test on his way in the form of Spain-ace and 20-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open 2022 final on Saturday. But there can be no or little argument that the Russian has been all heart and legs in his approach at the first Grand Slam of the year and will be expected to deliver in the same rhythm in the finale. Moreover, he might take inspiration from US Open triumph in 2021, where he overcame Serbian megastar Novak Djokovic in the final to register another upset which looks well within his reach.
The Russian holds only a 1:3 win-loss ratio against the Spaniard but history can be made in a day. Medvedev overcame Nick Kyrgios, Maxime Cressy and Stefanos Tsitsipas on his way to the summit clash. But his run to the summit-clash has shown that he could hardly be called a let off. He directed much of his ire towards umpire Jaume Campistol accusing Tsitsipas’ father of illegal coaching.
“Bro, are you mad?” he yelled. “For what? And his father can talk every point? Bro, are you stupid? His father can talk every point!”
He repeated the last line multiple times, screaming at the umpire to “answer my question.”
“Oh my god, you are so bad, man. How can you be so bad in the semifinal of a Grand Slam. Look at me! I’m talking to you!”
Eventually, Medvedev said, “If you don’t [give him a warning], you are – how can I say it – a small cat.”
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The entire episode highlighted Medvedev’s grit and ability to find his feet after things did not pan out his way. He dropped the second set but came back stronger to close the match in four sets to enter the summit clash. It will exactly be the kind of approach that will be required to overcome the Nadal threat.
The Spaniard is, meanwhile, chasing distinction over his other two familiar foes Djokovic and Roger Federer for his 21st Grand Slam title. But more than that his experience of winning 500 hard-court matches will be a test that Medvedev will be wary of.