Australian Open live blog: Rafael Nadal takes on Daniil Medvedev in men’s singles final as Spaniard targets record 21st Grand Slam title

Nadal in pursuit of tennis history

Three men, all modern-day and all-time tennis greats, are currently stymied to 20 Grand Slam singles titles, with one once again lucky enough to part ways with the pack.

That man is Rafael Nadal.

At the moment, he is at an impasse with his great rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

Tonight, rising Russian star Daniil Medvedev stands in his way.

Could Daniil Medvedev once again put an end to a great tennis player’s hopes of winning a 21st Slam? (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

Ironically, it was Medvedev who blocked Djokovic’s quest for that particular slice of history at Flushing Meadow last September and reduced the Serbian world number one to a tearful mess midway through their encounter, as Medvedev won his first Grand Slam title, having lost in the Australian Open final earlier that year.

The defeat also ended Djokovic’s quest for the Grand Slam, four majors in a year.

Nadal is now partly in Djokovic’s position, however, and if he wins number 21 at the Rod Laver Arena, number 22 at his beloved Roland Garros in June may not be far away.

But first he has to get past Medvedev and a shady story in Melbourne.

While the Spaniard has had no trouble beating Medvedev over the years, holding a 3-1 record, including the 2019 US Open final, Australia hasn’t been his hunting ground the happiest.

In fact, in terms of success, it’s Nadal’s worst Grand Slam event.

Lifetime, he is 20-8 in Grand Slam finals.

In 16 trips here, he has only carried the trophy once and gone 1 out of 5 in the final.

The victory dates back to 2009, when he still sported longer, fuller hair and beat Federer in the final in five sets.

Rafael Nadal in 2009 after beating Roger Federer in the AO final. Reuters: Mick Tsikas

Nadal was only 22 years old.

Now 35, he said after his semi-final win over Matteo Berrettini that he “never thought about [having] another chance in 2022.”

Now he has every reason to believe he may be the most prolific men’s major winner of all time, but in Medvedev he faces an opponent who won’t miss and will make Nadal play a more aggressive game than he is accustomed.

If he can pull it off, history will be his again.

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