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‘Rafa is a big figure here’ – Defending champion Medvedev tips Nadal for deep US Open run

Don’t call him the favourite – the world No 1 thinks someone else should be at the top of the list of potential champions

Daniil Medvedev Tennis – U.S. Open – Flushing Meadows, New York, United States – August 31, 2022 Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in action during his second round match against France’s Arthur Rinderknech (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Daniil Medvedev is the defending men’s champion at the US Open, plus he’s the world No 1 – but he’s watching out for someone else in particular when it comes to this year’s title.

The 26-year-old thinks Rafael Nadal could still have a massive part to play in this tournament, despite the injuries that have been plaguing him in recent months.

“I don’t want to put pressure on anybody, but I think Rafa is a big favourite also,” said Medvedev when asked whether he felt he was the favourite to win the title. “He won the last time he played here against me actually. He won two slams this year. I think Novak is better on grass, but Rafa didn’t play [in the Wimbledon semi-final or final]. He actually didn’t lose in a Grand Slam this year. He retired [before the semi-final], which is not the same.

“In my opinion Rafa is big, let’s call it like this, I don’t want to say favourite, big favorite, [but] he’s definitely big figure in this tournament.

“Then for sure there are many other good guys. I’m happy to see my name sometimes in the odds or something like this because I’m like, ‘That’s great. That means that I play some good tennis.’ Being amongst the favourites just brings me more motivation to try to do well.”

Medvedev: Playing at night can be tricky

He certainly did that against second-round opponent Arthur Rinderknech, dismissed in straight sets 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 – although he had a few concerns with his display.

“I was actually not super happy with my level,” Medvedev admitted. “At the same time it’s sometimes really tough to play at night, all the day waiting. I usually like it, but a little bit in the beginning can be a little bit tricky.

“I think it was much tougher for him. I’m pretty experienced with that, had these nights already a couple times. For him maybe it was the first one or second one. He definitely didn’t start the match very good.

“But, yeah, in general I’m happy with my level in the third set, so that’s great. At the end of the match it was getting better and better. At the same time a win is the most important, three sets. Try to get out as early as possible even if it is pretty late. Looking forward for next round.”

Medvedev will next play the history-making Yibing Wu.

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