Have faith in my capabilities; there is no pressure ahead of Rafa clash: Medvedev

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World No. 2 tennis player Daniil Medvedev has said he has faith in his capabilities, adding that there wasn’t any pressure on him ahead of the Australian Open title showdown against Spanish stalwart Rafael Nadal on Sunday.

Nadal is aiming to become the first player in history to win 21 singles Grand Slams and break a tie with Swiss ace Roger Federer and Serbian world No. 1 Novak Djokovic who all are currently on 20 majors each.

Medvedev booked his place in Sunday’s final with a 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory over fourth-seeded Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday. The Russian is aiming to become the first male player to follow his maiden major crown with his second at the next Grand Slam event, after beating Novak Djokovic in the 2021 US Open final.

“I really don’t have much pressure. I know what I’m capable of when I’m playing well. I know that I can beat anybody,” Medvedev was quoted as saying by atptour.com after the semifinal win. “The second round against (Australia’s) Nick (Kyrgios) was a tight one. But it gave me a lot of confidence in my own power, in my own tennis.

“I know (after the US Open) that I’m capable of winning seven matches in a row and the last one against Novak was epic. So, I knew before this tournament that it is possible. That is what I’m trying to prove.”

This fortnight the 13-time tour-level titlist has edged Kyrgios, Maxime Cressy of the US and Tsitsipas in four sets, while he saved a match point en route to his five-set victory against Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada in the quarterfinals. His two other wins here came against Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen and Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands.

It is a run the 25-year-old Medvedev has enjoyed as he aims to go one step further this year in Melbourne compared to a year ago, when he lost to Djokovic in the final.

“It’s been great (the run at the Australian Open). It’s definitely been emotional. It started with the match against Nick (Kyrgios), which was just emotional in all aspects. I think it started there and this energy kept on going with different ones in every match. Some matches were mad. The Felix match was just crazy in terms of tennis and the score. My matches with Stefanos are always emotional. It’s been a great run and I’m happy that I have the chance to win the title on Sunday.”

The second seed will compete in his fourth major final when he plays Nadal on Sunday. It will be the second time the world No. 2 has faced the Spaniard in the final of a Grand Slam, after losing to him in a five-set thriller at the US Open in 2019.

Medvedev’s other two meetings at this stage of a major came against Djokovic.

“They are really strong,” Medvedev said about the ‘Big 3’ (Federer, Nadal and Djokovic). “It’s really tough to get into the final, and I always have them there waiting for me. But it’s fun. When I was eight or 10 years old I was playing against the wall and I was imagining that it was Rafa on the other side, or Roger (Federer). Novak was still not yet there.

“Now I have the chance to play a second time (against Nadal). (The) first one was close, an epic one. I’m going to try to prepare well, and (I) need to show my best, because that’s what I took of the three finals that I played before, that you have to do better than 100 per cent in order to win.”

On the challenge of facing Nadal, Medvedev added, “(It will probably be a) physical match. Rafa likes to drag people into long rallies. I like it too. I think it is going to be a great battle. But again, I remember last year’s final in Australia, even if it was against a different opponent. I’m going to try to be more ready, more focused, fighting more, and give it everything I have in terms of tennis, both physically and mentally.”

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