Rafael Nadal will meet Daniil Medvedev in the 2019 U.S. Open final on Sunday in a battle between one of the most decorated stars in tennis and a rising force making his debut on this stage.
Medvedev, 23, had never advanced past the fourth round of a Grand Slam prior to this tournament—never mind reaching the last—and will test his mettle against Nadal, who will make his 27th major final appearance.
Nadal, 10 years Medvedev's senior, has won three of his four previous U.S. Open finals and will be hoping to make his experience over the underdog count on Sunday.
The Spaniard was commanding in 6-3, 6-0 win over Medvedev in their only previous clash at the Rogers Cup in August.
Nadal and Medvedev recorded straight-sets victories in the semi-finals to secure their places in Sunday's decider. The former bested 24th seed Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-1 to reach his fifth U.S. Open final, while Medvedev topped Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-3.
There's little debating the point that Nadal looked the more confident in his semi-final, however, notching his fourth straight-sets win over the tournament in his fifth match at Flushing Meadows:
Nadal's walkover against Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round means he's played one less match than Medvedev, who has played to four sets in four of his six outings in New York.
It's regular practice for a fit and firing Nadal, who is enjoying some of the best tennis he's played in the past five years and has convinced author Matt Zemek of his return to the peak of his powers:
Sunday's final will see a seasoned veteran take on a precocious upstart, and Medvedev could hardly have asked for a more difficult opponent for his maiden Grand Slam final appearance.
The odds are stacked against the Russian, who would be in rare territory if he manages to topple the world No. 2, per Gracenote Olympic:
Medvedev has reached final following a brilliant string of success in North American tournaments this season, as Live Tennis highlighted:
The man standing opposite him on Sunday will be a different test altogether, however, and serves as a true barometer of whether he's ready to join the tennis elite.
Nadal has won 18 major crowns and dwarfs his final foe in pedigree, but the unpredictable Medvedev will hope to gain redemption for his Rogers Cup loss against the icon at Flushing Meadows.