(Tennis news) The 2022 Australian Open had its own troubles and controversies even before the players stepped on the court. The opening Grand Slam of the year navigated the focus into the players as the past three weeks were proof of the whole journey.
Daniil Medvedev too in his press conference talked about his journey and his entry to the top as a professional. The 25 year old was the strong favourite to take the title, his first Grand Slam came a few months back and he fought his way to a huge win. This time the pressure seemed to settle on the Russian’s territory.
Medvedev was quick and brutal in the first two sets of the match as it seemed like he would stop Rafael Nadal from making history. Even in the second set, Medvedev came back from 3-5 and saved a set point in the same game to settle in the tie breaker. Even in the tiebreaker the Spaniard had a 5-3 lead and then four consecutive points by the 2021 US Open winner saw him take a 2-0 set lead. Medvedev was almost there and was just a set away from winning his 2nd major.
In the third set, Medvedev squandered a 2-3 (0-40) lead as he had no answers to Nadal’s attacking winners. There are always setbacks in the game but one needs to motivate themselves to take clutch and do the deed. Medvedev has always had trouble with the audience, he has never held back from getting back at the crowd. Nadal and Roger Federer are known to be crowd pullers; their attitude on court is way better than the most of the next gen players.
The crowd seemed to have got behind Nadal as it was even pointed out by Medvedev. The next gen player needs to believe that there will always be the boos alongside fans who will cheer for him. One more important aspect of the match was after the second set the rallies became shorter as it was Nadal who did not wait for an unforced error but took the risk by forcing the opponent to move and struggle.
Medvedev also did not attack when needed, especially after the 5 hour mark when he failed to hold serve. He took the big guns whenever Nadal had the lead but could not do the same when the scorers were level. After the third set, the 21st Grand Slam pressure seemed less than the 2nd Grand Slam and the mental game seemed to fall apart for Medvedev. It affected his game, he did bring himself back in the final set from 3-5 to 5 all but again could not counter attack Nadal.
There was a 10 year gap between the two players and usually in a match that lasts for 5 and half hours the senior player is expected to exit first. Medvedev also had less variety of shots as compared to Nadal who at times used full advantage of Medvedev standing back at the court. While Medvedev started to become a bit more predictable, most of his second serves were towards Nadal’s backhand and the 20 time title winner started attacking from that side too. The next gen is still having trouble with the veterans and the youngsters need to start their journey by battling high tides of history.
Medvedev has no reason to lose hope in Australia, Nadal has lost 4 finals prior to this victory and had last won in 2009. There will be surfaces or crowds where a player has certain issues but with time those issues can be resolved. The two time runner up at Australia will be needing a lot of self motivation and a little push from others in the coming months as there are more crucial matches to catch up on.
Medvedev has indicated that he is not sure if he wants to play after turning 30 but can take inspiration from what has happened in Australia over the past few days. He has to focus on what's more important, a setback or what he can learn from the loss. He also has time in his hands, something which Nadal will most certainly cherish with his record 21st trophy.