The slow courts have meant Daniil Medvedev can loiter around the baseline pretty unscathed however the toughest challenge is here, the man who plays to his rhythm and his only. Rafael Nadal.
If I were to describe how both play but song, Medvedev would be Heroes by David Bowie (slow but effective) and Nadal’s would be Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting by Elton John (steady then rampant).
I don’t think you’ll read a more bizarre sentence than that previewing a Grand Slam final but hey, what better way to kick off?
I do worry for Daniil Medvedev in this one, I’ll be honest! He can defend and frustrate but Rafael Nadal is a completely different challenge, he will settle into his rhythm and you have follow suit.
They only met not long ago in the Rogers Cup final and I felt at that point Medvedev in my opinion played with some mis-guided arrogance and was trying to be too clever.
I thought Rafa played quite slow in Montreal and in New York it has been quicker which is why I worry for Daniil.
The forehand from Rafa sets the theme;
The forehand gives Nadal control of the rally. In an ideal world Medvedev would like to be able to run in a straight line (orange) across the baseline but because of his position on the court and the angle Nadal creates its a chasing backwards run (blue).
This then creates the slice return…
The slice drops into the orange circle, Rafa then back’s up into that circle and will flatten out the forehand cross or pull it down the line (which he did) for the winner. Medvedev? In no mans land.
It is the best play to go after Medvedev’s forehand and attack from there. 1 of the 22 winners he hit against Dimitrov was a forehand.
His bread and butter is the backhand and he has to be quicker than Rafa at taking control of the rally and finding that killer shot.
All tournament I’ve spoken about Rafa’s need for quicker rallies and his net approaches as well. It’s progressive tennis. Starting from beyond the baseline and finishing at the net.
As the tournament has progressed he is coming to the net more and more.
In his first three matches he approached the net 26 times and won an impressive 22 times.
In his last two matches he has approached the net 43 times winning 33 of the points.
Why more? Quicker points. Rafa will win long rallies, he is dominating all areas of the court but knows he has to be smarter with his tennis.
It is something he and his team have looked at increasing as major tournaments progress and he has looked sharp.
For Daniil I do hope it’s quite competitive but he has to be painting the lines with that backhand to keep Rafa at bay and to do that will be tough.