- 08 Sep 2019
It will be a familiar scenario for Rafael Nadal when he faces Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final on Sunday.
Nadal will be taking on a first-time grand slam finalist for the third successive year.
Six of Nadal’s previous 26 major finals have been against debutants in that arena and the Spaniard has predictably dominated such matchups.
Here we look back at the 18-time grand slam champion’s record against first-timers ahead of what should be an intriguing battle with Medvedev.
2005 French Open v Mariano Puerta: Won 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-1 7-5
Nadal’s first major final saw him battle another debutant in Mariano Puerta at Roland Garros. The Argentinian took the first set in a tie-break but Nadal dominated from there to complete a 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-1 7-5 win.
It would mark the start of nine French Open wins in 10 years as Nadal solidified his reputation as the King of Clay. Puerta, meanwhile, received a second suspension for a doping offence and never returned to such a stage.
2010 Wimbledon v Tomas Berdych: Won 6-3 7-5 6-4
Two years after he won arguably the greatest ever final at the All England Club by beating Roger Federer in five sets, Nadal enjoyed a much more serene victory in what still stands as Berdych’s sole major final.
Nadal saw off Andy Murray in the semi-finals while Berdych had stunningly beaten Federer and then Novak Djokovic to progress to the final. However, he ran out of steam against Nadal in routine fashion.
2013 French Open v David Ferrer: Won 6-3 6-2 6-3
Nadal had to come through an epic five-setter with Djokovic in the last four to reach the final but still had far too much for his compatriot, losing just eight games across three sets.
The victory secured his eighth French Open title but he would have to wait four more years for La Decima.
2014 Australian Open v Stan Wawrinka: Lost 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3
Wawrinka had fallen just short in his previous grand slam, losing in the semi-finals at the 2013 US Open, but the Swiss was inspired in Melbourne as he defeated Djokovic in five sets in the quarter-finals and needed under two and a half hours to see off Nadal.
The Spaniard did win the third set to suggest a comeback was on the cards, but this was Wawrinka’s day and he served the fourth out to win the first of three major titles.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) March 28, 2017
2017 US Open v Kevin Anderson: Won 6-3 6-3 6-4
Nadal enjoyed a remarkable 2017, reaching three major finals after many thought his days of contending for slams were over.
He lost a five-set thriller to Federer in Australia before completing La Decima against Wawrinka in Paris.
A stunning year was rounded off in New York as the absence of Djokovic and Murray and Federer’s quarter-final exit opened up the draw, with surprise package Anderson the beneficiary.
Nadal made light work of the big-serving South African, though, and faces another player who profited from an open draw on Sunday. Medvedev, however, promises to present a much stiffer challenge.
2018 French Open v Dominic Thiem: Won 6-4 6-3 6-2
The first of two meetings with the Austrian in the decider at Roland Garros was much more one-sided than the second, though he still needed two hours and 42 minutes to see off Thiem.
Thiem took a set off Nadal a year later in a rematch, indicating the possible start of an intriguing clay-court rivalry in the coming years.
If his performances at Flushing Meadows are any evidence, Nadal should see plenty more of Medvedev in the latter stages of his career.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 9, 2019