It’s been a successful US Open for our bets, with a seven points profit so far on the daily wagers as we approach the last major match of the season, with Rafael Nadal taking on Daniil Medvedev for the men’s singles title.
The final is scheduled at (not before) 21:00 UK time (16:00 local) and at that time the weather forecast says to expect no rain, 24C heat and around 45% humidity, with 15kph winds.
So, fair conditions, and Nadal will fancy his chances here of getting to just one behind Roger Federer in terms of major title won, with a view to potentially drawing level on 20 at the next French Open.
It’s a repeat of the recent Montreal final in which a tired looking Medvedev started brightly enough, but faded after being broken in the opening set and lost the last seven games in a row.
The problem here for Medvedev is an obvious one and that’s accumulated fatigue after an astonishing 22 matches in the last five weeks and with a body that’s showing the effects of those efforts.
Taped up in various areas for the last couple of matches Medvedev’s main issue here is that he relies on his defensive speed to be that ‘brick wall’ that has to be broken down and plenty of players at the moment aren’t up to the job of breaking him down.
The likes of Stan Wawrinka (admittedly a sick Stan Wawrinka) and Grigor Dimitrov were unable to hit past this brick wall, who also puts opponents on the back foot with his very flat hitting, but Nadal is different.
Rafa will be prepared to go as long in the rally as it takes and he has something that Stan and Grigor don’t: the lefty forehand down the line that’s arguably been the most devastating ground stroke in tennis in the last 10-15 years or so and probably of all time.
When Nadal is confident (he’s won 25 of his last 26 matches, so he should be) and hits that shot as well as he can it’s curtains for most opponents and Medvedev had no answer to it in Montreal, but that was his first time facing it, so he may have fresh ideas this time.
He’ll need to be fit to put those ideas into action though and whether his right bicep injury will allow the Russian to serve better than he did against Dimitrov (47% first serves in and eight double faults) is anyone’s guess.
There’s also the left quad injury as well and you don’t want to be facing Nadal in a major final when you’re less than fit and have spent three hours more on court than the Spaniard this tournament.
Medvedev talked about that problem after the Montreal match: “It was a tough one,” he admitted. “As I actually said, his energy was much higher than mine. He kind of, I would say, eaten me on the court.”
And that’s the issue for Medvedev in a nutshell: he wins many of his matches by wearing down the opponent and unless Nadal is sick or injured it’s hard to see how he can do that against this opponent.
Then there’s the issue of Medvedev playing a first major final, which is a nervous occasion for any player, so it’s hard to envisage Medvedev winning this match.
He might throw everything into the opening set though and that’s where Nadal is sometimes at his most vulnerable on a hard court against the better opposition.
In Nadal’s last 11 matches on all hard courts versus top-10 opposition, only once has he won the opening set in fewer than 10 games, therefore the over 9.5 games in set one at 1.95 is a reasonable option.
If Medvedev is struggling with that right bicep and can’t serve as well as he can do the 2.0 about Nadal serving the most aces with a 6.5 start is tempting as well.
Nadal has already out-aced a 6’6” heavy server in Marin Cilic this tournament (11-10 to Nadal in that match) and we’ll see if Medvedev – who hit only five aces in two sets against Nadal in Montreal – is capable of covering -6.5 aces.
Under 17.5 aces is also an option for similar reasons and there were only 13 aces in three sets between Nadal and big-serving (and fit) Matteo Berrettini in their semi final.
So, a few options in the side markets, but I can’t see Nadal not winning this one.
0.5 points win Nadal +6.5 aces at 2.0