Rafael Nadal after winning the 2010 US Open (PA Images)
Rafael Nadal is on the brink of winning a fourth U.S. Open title and 19th Grand Slam as he prepares to face Daniil Medvedev on Sunday – and ahead of that final showdown, we’ve gone back and looked at the Spaniard’s previous appearances in title matches at Flushing Meadows…
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2010: Nadal def. Djokovic 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2
One of Nadal’s biggest ever victories as he outlasted Djokovic in three hours and 43 minutes to win his first U.S. Open title and become the seventh man in history to complete the set of Grand Slam crowns.
Nadal came into the tournament on the back of winning Roland Garros and Wimbledon, but had suffered disappointing defeats to Andy Murray and Marcos Baghdatis in Canada and Cincinnati respectively in the lead-up. However, Nadal was on fire for the entire fortnight, debuting a more potent serve that helped give him an extra edge on hardcourt against Djokovic.
To this day, it remains the only time Nadal has won Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in the same season.
”This is more than I ever dreamed,” Nadal said after the win. “It is unbelievable to have this US Open trophy.”
2011: Djokovic def. Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-1
Djokovic got his revenge one year later, prevailing in an epic four-setter after four hours and 10 minutes inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Nadal was trying to defend a Grand Slam title outside of Roland Garros for the first time – something he still hasn’t been able to achieve – but he was no match for an on-fire Djokovic, who put together the best season of his career in 2011 and came into the U.S. Open having won 64 of his 66 matches that season. The Serbian was also 6-0 against Nadal after the victory.
2013: Nadal def. Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1
Another four-set final in New York between Nadal and Djokovic, and this time it was the Spaniard who emerged triumphant. Nadal missed the U.S. Open in 2012 due to a knee injury, but he roared back to life in the city that never sleeps, moving to within one slam of Pete Sampras with 13 and regaining the No. 1 ranking from Djokovic.
“Having this success is amazing,” he said. “I never expected it. That’s life and I’m lucky to have what I’m having.
“I really love the competition, I really love the sport. All my career I dreamed to be involved in matches like today. I enjoy every moment.
“These things are not forever. In a few years I won’t have this chance. I try my best, I have passion and that’s all I can do.”
Nadal improved to 22-0 on hardcourts after the victory and became the first player to win at least one Grand Slam in nine straight seasons.
2017: Nadal def. Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4
After his triumph in 2013, Nadal missed the U.S. Open in 2014 through injury and was bundled out in the third round and fourth round in 2015 and 2016 respectively. From Wimbledon in 2014 to the U.S. Open in 2016, Nadal only made it past the fourth round twice in seven majors and failed to reach a single semi-final.
However, Nadal put together a superb resurgence in 2017, making the Australian Open final at the start of the season and returning to the champions corner at Roland Garros – and he earned a second major of he season and his third U.S. Open title, cruising past first-time major finalist Kevin Anderson in straight sets.
“It’s just unbelievable what happened this year,” said Nadal.
“After a couple of years with some troubles, injuries, sometimes playing not good – since the beginning of the season it has been very, very emotional.”
It was the first time since 2013 that Nadal had won at least two slams in a single season.
2019: Nadal vs Medvedev – ?
Nadal is back into his fifth U.S. Open final as he gets ready for the challenge of Daniil Medvedev, who like Anderson, will be competing in his maiden major final in New York.
Medvedev has put together a stunning run, winning 20 of his last 22 matches, but Nadal’s form is even more eye-catching, with the Spaniard losing just one match since May – and that came against Roger Federer in the Wimbledon semi-finals. Nadal has dropped just one set on his way to the final, while Medvedev has battled away in numerous four-setters – will the World No. 2 have too much in the tank for the Russian and pick up his fourth U.S. Open crown?
Rafael Nadal at the US Open – A look back at the Spaniard’s four previous US Open finals [VIDEO]
Rafael Nadal is on the brink of winning a fourth U.S. Open title and 19th Grand Slam as he prepares…
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