The big match

Australian Open men’s final: Nadal vs. Medvedev preview and predictions

Can Rafael Nadal win a record 21st grand slam title or will Daniil Medvedev claim a second?

Rafael Nadal is just one win away from a record 21st career grand slam title. On Sunday the Spaniard will face Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open men’s singles final – and should he beat the Russian he would move one clear of “big three” rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who also have 20 slams to their name.

Sixth seed Nadal progressed to Sunday’s final after beating Italy’s Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. Second seed Medvedev secured his spot with a 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 semi-final victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas. 

Nadal’s achievement in reaching a 29th grand slam final “comes only a few months after he thought a foot injury could end his illustrious career”, the BBC reported. The 35-year-old admits there were “a lot of challenging moments” and it could have been “a chance to say goodbye”. 

“That was not a lot of months ago,” he said. “To be able to be where I am today, I really can’t explain in words how important it is for me in terms of energy, in terms of personal satisfaction, in terms of being very thankful for all the support that I received from the fans and especially from the people really close to me. It’s much more important to have the chance to play tennis than win the 21.”

Can Medvedev stop another 21st slam attempt?

Facing an opponent bidding to win an elusive 21st slam, Medvedev “has been here before”, Eurosport said. At last year’s US Open final he stopped Djokovic from winning his 21st – and is now “planning to stage a repeat against Nadal”.

Speaking to Jim Courier on court after his four-set win over Tsitsipas, Medvedev said: “I’m going to play again against one of the greatest. What’s funny is again I’m going to play someone going for the 21st slam. I guess last time Rafa was watching… I think Novak will be watching this one also. Grand slam finals are special. I’m ready. I know that Rafa is a very strong player, I know I will need to show my best to try to win this match.”

How to watch on TV in the UK 

Starting at around 8.30am GMT on Sunday morning, the Australian Open men’s singles final between Nadal and Medvedev will be shown live in the UK on Eurosport. The final will also be live streamed via discovery+.

Nadal vs. Medvedev: head-to-head

This will be the fourth career meeting between the duo, with Nadal leading the head-to-head 3-1. They have met once before in a final of a grand slam. At the 2019 US Open final Nadal beat Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4. They last met at the 2020 ATP Finals where Medvedev won in three sets.

Predictions and odds: who will win?

Nadal may be the “sentimental favourite” to win the Australian Open, but the bookies strongly favour Medvedev to claim his second grand slam title on Sunday, said Sportsnaut. According to Oddschecker, Medvedev is 4/7 to win in Melbourne while Nadal is priced at 7/4. 

It could be the “most exciting match” we have had all throughout the tournament, though it will “not be straight forward for either player”, said TennisSection. Expect a “five-setter” with both players “leaving it all out on the court”. However, at the end of the day, Nadal “will make history and cement himself” as the champion.

This is a “clash of two eras”, said Lakshya Chopra on firstsportz.com. It will surely be a “mouth-watering” encounter so “expect a thriller” on Sunday as both men look for glory. “Given his big match temperament and momentum, Nadal could very well topple Medvedev and script history in Melbourne. Prediction: Nadal to win in five sets.”

Barney Corkhill, editor of SportsMole, is backing Medvedev to win in five sets and claim back-to-back grand slam titles. This would be a “major achievement in this golden era” and Medvedev is on the brink to doing something that no-one outside the big three has done for more than two decades.

Sunday’s final will probably be decided by “whoever executes better on the day”, said Jim Smith on Last Word on Sports. “There isn’t a great deal in it on paper and both are certainly good enough to win.” That said, Medvedev has to be favourite as his game looks “better-suited to this surface” than the great Spaniard’s. “It may well be close, but expect Medvedev to have just about enough. Prediction: Medvedev in 4.”

Following the withdrawal of world No.1 Novak Djokovic, Medvedev has so far “lived up to the billing” of being the favourite to win the tournament, said Neelabhra Roy on SportsKeeda. However, he will face arguably his toughest test yet in the shape of Nadal, “who has been in terrific form”. The match could well turn out to be “one of the finest grand slam finals in recent years”, with Nadal “just about edging out” Medvedev to become the first man to win 21 majors.

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