Tennis: 'Happy I'm not playing Nadal': Medvedev

AFP , Friday 24 May 2024

Daniil Medvedev said he was "happy" not to have been drawn to face 14-time champion Rafael Nadal in the French Open first round as the great Spaniard prepares to bid an emotional farewell to the tournament.

Nadal vs Medvedev
FILE- Rafael Nadal of Spain defeated Russia’s Daniil Medvedev to win the Australia Open trophy in 2020. Photo: AFP

 

Nadal, who has only lost three times in 115 matches at Roland Garros since his title-winning debut in 2005, is playing the French Open for the last time.

In a blockbuster first match, unseeded Nadal will face fourth-ranked Alexander Zverev and world number five Medvedev could not be more delighted.

"I'm not shy to say I'm happy it's not me playing against him first round," admitted Medvedev on Friday, a day after practising with Nadal.

Former world number one and 22-time Grand Slam title winner Nadal, whose ranking has slumped to 276 after featuring in just four tournaments since January last year, will turn 38 on June 3.

However, Medvedev warned Zverev that Nadal is far from a fading force.

"There's a lot of hard work, a lot of mental effort. Sometimes people forget he has a lot of talent in his hands also," said the Russian.

"We were warming up serves and then he did three in a row, volley, dropshots, banana ones, with backspin, and it was funny.

"We were saying, 'Yeah, no talent, just hard work!'"

Nadal holds a 7-3 winning head-to-head record against Zverev with five of those victories coming on clay.

The last time they met was in the 2022 semi-finals in Paris when the German was forced to retire after suffering a serious ankle injury.

"It's tough to play Rafa," added Medvedev.

"He has the capability to spin the ball not like other players, get these high balls especially on clay, is not easy.

"Then we go to where he fights for every point, he brings intensity to every point. You know you're going to be tired, you know it's going to be tough. It's not easy."

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