Carlos Moya admitted Daniil Medvedev ‘surprised’ Rafael Nadal in the final of the US Open, when he clawed his way back into the five-set thriller.
Nadal had thumped Medvedev 6-3 6-0 in their only previous meeting at the Rogers Cup that summer and looked on course for a routine straight sets win in New York when he led by two sets to love, with a break in the third.
But Medvedev, the long-limbed world No. 5 from Russia, scrambled his way back into the match – forcing Nadal into a fifth set after a change in tactics saw him rush to the net more frequently.
Moya, Nadal’s coach, admitted that Medvedev’s tactical switch had surprised the world No. 2 and proved to Team Rafa just how good the 24-year-old is, despite Nadal coming out on top in the end.
‘The last time they played was in the Canadian Open final where Rafa won quite easily,’ Moya told Marca.
‘Then Daniil won in Cincinnati so it was no surprise to find him on the other side of the net in the US Open final.
‘We thought that the longer the match went on, the better for us. He had had physical problems during the tournament, he had played a lot all summer.
‘When Rafa went two sets to zero, I honestly thought that victory was near. I didn’t think Medvedev was going to turn that score around.
‘What happened next was incredible. It went from having break up in the third set to things getting really bad for us.
‘The key was Rafa’s experience against a player who was in his first final. He also had weapons to change his game and hurt the Russian.
‘Daniil changed his way of playing when he was down and surprised us.’
He added: ‘When I say that we were surprised by his game change, I mean, above all, that he began to constantly come to the net. He was doing serve and volley. He greatly shortened the points.
‘If at 1-0 and 15-40 for Daniil [in the fifth set] he achieved the break, I don’t know what would have happened. Medvedev changed his tactics and that shows how good he is.’
Medvedev is still yet to beat Nadal in three attempts but couldn’t have come much closer than their most recent encounter at the ATP Finals in London, where he led the Spaniard 5-1 in the third set, missing a match point before going down in a tiebreak.
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