Daniil Medvedev used to pretend he was playing Rafael Nadal as a boy and now the Russian is out to stop his hero at the Australian Open from making history as the Spaniard eyes a record 21st Grand Slam title
- Daniil Medvedev plays Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s Australian Open final
- The Russian used to pretend he was playing Nadal during his childhood
- Nadal could move ahead of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer with 21 titles
- Medvedev could intervene in the race between the three legends of tennis
As a boy, Daniil Medvedev used to pretend he was up against the man facing him in Sunday’s Australian Open final, Rafael Nadal.
Now he can potentially change the course of tennis history by intervening in the race between three legends, which has taken such an unexpected turn this month.
After Novak Djokovic’s dramatic expulsion from Australia, Nadal has pounced. One more win and he can edge ahead of the Serb and Roger Federer to 21 Grand Slam titles. Djokovic will be looking on from afar today and so, doubtless, will Federer.
Rafael Nadal aims to break out on his own with what would be a record 21st Grand Slam title
Russian Daniil Medvedev though could intervene in the race between three tennis legends
It will all be a far cry from when Medvedev was first learning the game. ‘When I was like eight or 10 years old I was playing against the wall and imagining that it was Rafa on the other side, or Roger. Novak was still not there yet,’ recalled Medvedev.
He can go to world No 1 by becoming the first man in the modern era to follow up his first Grand Slam title — the US Open — with the very next one he played. Emotions will need to be kept in check, something not guaranteed. On Saturday he was fined £9,000 for his outbursts during his stormy semi-final.
Medvedev acknowledged that this is a big difference between himself and Nadal. ‘We know how Rafa’s mentality in life is like,’ said the 25-year-old Russian.
Medvedev won his his first Grand Slam at the US Open and could make it two in a row
‘He’s like a perfect guy, never breaks a racket. There’s always the story about the controller when he was young and how [his uncle] Toni told him you shouldn’t do it. Many of my friends break controllers but Rafa, he’s amazing for this.’
Of his four Grand Slam finals, including today, two have been against Djokovic and two against Nadal.
‘What I took from the finals I had before, is that you have to do better than 100 per cent to win,’ said Medvedev, who hopes that his detachment from the three-way duel of the greats will be an advantage.
‘I’m happy to have the chance to try to stop one more time somebody from making history. It’s kind of their thing, not mine. I’m just there to try to win the final.’
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