Something familiar awaits every generation at the US Open this weekend with golden oldies Rafa Nadal and Serena Williams looking for more U.S. Open Grand Slam glory and Daniil Medvedev and teenager Bianca Andreescu poised to usher in a new era.
Nadal stormed into in a fifth US Open final in familiar fashion on Saturday, out-muscling big-hitting Italian Matteo Berrettini 7-6(6) 6-4 6-1 to set up an intriguing Sunday showdown against Russian villain Medvedev, who seems to have as many weapons in his tennis arsenal as personalities.
With Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic having been shown the Flushing Meadows exit, Nadal is the last member of the Big Three still standing so it will be up to the Spaniard to extend the old guard’s run of 11 consecutive Grand Slam wins.
A fourth US Open title would also give the 33-year-old Spaniard 19 Grand Slams moving him to within one of matching Federer’s record of 20.
“I just focus on trying to be 100% ready for it,” said Nadal, who will be contesting his 27th Grand Slam final. “When I arrived here, my goal was to produce a chance to compete for the big thing again. Here I am.
“I give myself another chance, as I did in Wimbledon, as I did in Australia, as I did in Roland Garros.
“You win, you lose. That’s part of all the sport.
“I would love to be the one who achieves more Grand Slams, but I still sleep very well without being the one who has more Grand Slams.”
In Medvedev, who will be appearing in his fourth consecutive final, Nadal will face the hottest player in the men’s game and perhaps one of the most complex.
“I will not say that I’m a kind person or a good person, I can only say I’m a really calm person in life,” said Medvedev, who has picked up $19,000 in fines for his antics. “I actually have no idea why the demons go out when I play tennis.
“I’m not proud of what I did. I’m working to never do it again.”
Medvedev will certainly be needing a better effort than the one he showed at the Rogers Cup final in Montreal in August when the Spaniard swept past him 6-3 6-0.
“Talking about Rafa, it’s tough to find words,” said Medvedev. “He’s one of the greatest champions in the history of our sport. He’s just a machine, a beast on the court.”
The same could be said about Williams who has shown devastating form in getting to her 10th US Open final.
Before Nadal and Medvedev take centre stage on Sunday the women will have their day on Saturday with 37-year-old Williams needing a win over 19-year-old sensation Andreescu to snatch a record-equalling 24th career Grand Slam singles title.
Williams returns to the scene of her controversial defeat against Naomi Osaka last year but says she hasn’t thought about that defeat and the surreal scenes again ahead of today’s final.
The American, 37, called umpire Carlos Ramos a “thief” and a “liar” as he docked her a game amid extraordinary scenes on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
On last year’s final, Williams said: “It hasn’t really crossed my mind.”
Williams is competing in her 10th US Open singles final, 20 years after her maiden victory in New York, while Andreescu is playing in her first Grand Slam final on her main-draw debut at Flushing Meadows.
Andreescu was not even born when Williams won her first Grand Slam title here in 1999.
“I remember watching her when I was about 10. I watched her win most of her Grand Slam titles,” Andreescu, seeded 15th, said.
“I’m sure she’s going to bring her A game. I’m going to try to bring my A game, too. Hopefully, I guess, may the best player win.”
Williams is aiming to equal Australian Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles by beating Andreescu, which would then give her the opportunity to become the leading major winner at the Australian Open in January – where a stadium is named after Court.
Williams has not won a major since the 2017 Australian Open, when she was eight weeks pregnant.
After losing to an inspired Halep at Wimbledon, Williams said she was not feeling burdened by the weight of history as she chases Court’s tally.
“It seems like every Grand Slam final I’m in recently, it has been an unbelievable effort to get there,” Williams said.
“It would be interesting to see how it would be under different circumstances.”