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Medvedev focused on winning title, not stopping Nadal from winning No 21

The Russian is determined to focus on himself as he tries to win his second, consecutive, Grand Slam title

Daniil Medvedev celebrates AO 2022 AI/Reuters/Panoramic

Australian Open 2022 | Draw | Order of play 

At last year’s US Open, Daniil Medvedev went into the final knowing that he was the only man who could stop Novak Djokovic from winning a record 21st Grand Slam title, breaking out of the tie on 20 with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

It was a fact that could easily have got in the way of the task at hand, just trying to win that first Grand Slam title but the Russian shut it out, went about his own business and got the job done in style.

On Sunday at the Australian Open he goes into the final against Rafael Nadal knowing that the Spaniard is chasing slam title No 21, another chance for one of the big three to move ahead again. Medvedev knows what he has to do, but for him, it’s about personal gain, not stopping another of the all-time greats.

“I’ll be honest, it doesn’t (affect me),” he said, after his four-set win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals on Friday. “It’s not me going for the 21st, not me trying to break these records. I’m going for my second one. I’m still far from all these things. I can maybe compete with other guys who have won, but I won’t even name them all, I don’t know who has maybe two or one.

“I’m just, you know, trying to focus on myself, doing my job. Of course, you know, I’m not lying, I know what’s happening, I know what Rafa is going for, I knew what Novak was going for. I’m not gonna say, Oh, yeah, I am trying not to listen about this. But it’s kind of their thing, not mine. I’m just there to try to win the final.”

Medvedev ready for epic battle with Nadal

That single-mindedness has helped Medvedev get to this point, the chance to become the first man in the Open era to win their second slam in the Grand Slam event immediately after their first. His resilience, consistency and ability to shake off adversity in matches is as good as anyone and the world No 2 says he’ll be ready to go toe to toe with the 35-year-old Nadal in Sunday night’s final.

“Of course I am going to discuss tactics with my coach, but probably physical match, you know,” he said. “Rafa likes to drag people into long rallies. I like it too. I think it’s going to be a great battle. But again, I remember last year’s final in Australia, even if it was against a different opponent (Djokovic). I’m going to try to be more ready, more focused, fighting more, and give it everything I have in terms of tennis, physically, mentally. Rafa, we know that from the first till last point he’s gonna fight his best, and that’s what I’m gonna try to do also.”

Nadal beat Medvedev in five sets in the Russian’s first slam final, at the US Open in 2019. Playing him again on another big stage was something to relish, he said.

“When I was like eight, 10 years old I was playing against the wall and I was imagining that it’s Rafa on the other side, or Roger. Novak was still not yet there, I think,” he said. “Now I have the chance, you know, to play (Nadal) a second time. First one was a close one, epic one. I’m gonna try to prepare well, and need to show my best, because that’s what I took of the three finals that I had before, that you have to do better than 100 percent in order to win. That’s what I managed to do in US Open. That’s what I’m gonna try to do on Sunday.”

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