Rafael Nadal takes aim at his 21st Grand Slam title on the major showcase court where he has struggled the most.
Nadal plays Daniil Medvedev in the 2022 Australian Open men's singles final on Sunday inside Rod Laver Arena.
Nadal is 1-4 in Australian Open finals. His only win in Melbourne occurred in 2009, when he beat Roger Federer in five sets.
Medvedev is looking to win his second straight major title. The 25-year-old Russian broke through with his first Grand Slam title at the 2021 U.S. Open with a win over Novak Djokovic.
Medvedev must be considered the favorite in the final because of his better record on hard courts, but Nadal is one of the all-time great players for a reason, and he should put up a strong fight.
Men's Singles Final Info
Date: Sunday, January 30
Start Time: 3:30 a.m. ET
Live Stream: ESPN+ and ESPN.com.
Daniil Medvedev over Rafael Nadal in 4 Sets
Daniil Medvedev is the much better hard-court player than Rafael Nadal.
The second-seeded Russian proved that during his U.S. Open title run in September, when he beat Novak Djokovic to claim the title.
Medvedev has a chance to beat another member of the "Big Three" of men's tennis on Sunday against Nadal.
Medvedev was slapped with the favorite tag in the men's singles bracket once Djokovic was ruled ineligible to compete in the season's first major.
The No. 2 seed dominated most of his first four matches by losing only two sets. He was pushed in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, but he found a way to win, even when he was down two sets to Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Medvedev showed the determination of a major champion to rally back from the two-set quarterfinal deficit, and that helped him rebound from a second-set loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas in his four-set semifinal victory.
Nadal also played nine sets over the last two rounds. He was pushed to five sets by Denis Shapovalov in the quarterfinal, and he went four sets against Matteo Berrettini.
The Spaniard took his last four set victories by three games or more, so when he has played well, he has looked hard to beat.
Nadal's problem on Sunday is that any deficit will be harder to come back from against Medvedev.
Nadal beat Medvedev in five sets to win the 2019 U.S. Open, but that victory came while the Russian was still gaining his traction on the major championship level.
Medvedev rose his game to the next level over the last year, and that was showcased by his major triumph in New York.
The No. 2 seed is a much harder player to beat than he was in 2019, when he fell to Nadal on three occasions. Nadal owns the head-to-head series 3-1.
Nadal could certainly push Medvedev to a fifth set, but he will not be able to overpower him, like he would on the Roland-Garros clay.
Medvedev is the better hard-court player, and that should show as he continues to establish himself as the best player among the next generation of men's tennis stars.