Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev played an epic US Open final three years ago. The Spaniard prevailed in five sets for his fourth and so far final US Open crown. The Russian took charge a year ago and toppled Novak Djokovic in the final to claim his first Major trophy in 25 years.
Nadal and Medvedev were among the favorites in New York this year, entering the draw as top seeds but without proper form. The Russian missed the clay season and Wimbledon, while the Spaniard injured his abdomen at the All England Club.
The top seeds failed to make an impact at the US Open, losing before the quarter-finals and leaving the door open for their rivals to seek the title and the ATP throne. Two top seeds failed to reach the last eight in New York for the first time since 2000, joining Andre Agassi and Gustavo Kuerten on the unfavorable list.
Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev exited the US Open early.
Agassi ended his 2000 US Open campaign in the second round when he fell to Arnaud Clement in straight sets, failing to defend the title won a year ago. Kuerten played in the quarter-finals in New York in 1999, entering the next year’s edition as the 2nd seed and hoping for a good run.
The Roland Garros champion reached the semifinals in Cincinnati and won the title in Indianapolis to boost his US Open chances. Still, the Brazilian suffered an early loss in New York to qualifier Wayne Arthurs in four sets.
They grabbed a single break in sets one and two and Arthurs remained focused in the third and fourth to claim them in the tie break and complete a stunning. Twenty-two years later, Medvedev and Nadal followed the same path, missing a chance to compete in the second week of the final major of the season.
Rafa fell to Frances Tiafoe 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 after three hours and 34 minutes. The American was the more aggressive player, firing 50 winners and breaking the Spaniard five times. Tiafoe lost serve twice and came from 3-1 down in the fourth set to rattle off five straight matches and enter the first US Open quarter-final in style.
Medvedev gave the title away after a 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 defeat to Nick Kyrgios in two hours and 53 minutes. The Aussie converted five of seven break chances and defended five of eight in his games to control the tempo in sets three and four and bring home the victory.