Alexander Zverev clinched victory for Team Europe in the Laver Cup for a third straight year when he won a thrilling deciding match against Milos Raonic.

With Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal roaring him on from courtside, Zverev fended off Raonic 6-4 3-6 10-4 amid raucous scenes in Geneva, holding his nerve in the match tie-break.

It gave Bjorn Borg's Team Europe squad a 13-11 triumph over Team World in the three-day event.

Team World had surged from 7-5 behind to lead early on Sunday, with captain John McEnroe's team benefiting from Nadal having to withdraw from his singles and doubles matches with an inflamed hand.

Nadal was meant to play doubles with Federer, but Stefanos Tsitsipas stepped in as his substitute and the American pair of John Isner and Jack Sock pulled off a 5-7 6-4 10-8 victory.

When Nadal's singles replacement, Dominic Thiem, slid to a surprise 7-5 6-7 (3-7) 10-5 defeat against Taylor Fritz, Team World pocketed another three points and were close to carrying off the trophy.

Federer returned to court to exact revenge over Isner, however, beating the big-serving American 6-4 7-6 (7-3) in singles as Nadal roared encouragement to his long-time rival, a rare sight.

That outcome teed up Zverev and Raonic for the winner-takes-all finale.

Australian great Rod Laver, from whom the event takes its name, watched on as a backhand winner from Zverev set up match point, and the German swept a cross-court forehand out of the reach of Raonic to tie up the title.

Zverev has had a rocky season on tour, so this was sweet satisfaction.

Pointing to his team-mates he said: "Those guys were screaming at me in the locker room before the tie-break.

"[They were saying] this is how I could turn my season around, this is how I can get my confidence back. I played an unbelievable tie-break.

"I'm super happy and super thankful to Rafa and Roger and the rest of the team. Without them on the bench today I would not have done it.

"It's very special, especially playing in front of those guys, and them trusting me to play the last singles match we have is an unbelievable feeling.

"This event is something I hope to play every single year of my career."

Federer added at the trophy presentation: "It's a big moment. What a weekend it's been. It's been absolutely incredible. Congratulations Team World on an unbelievable fight, I can't wait for the next one in Boston."

Team Europe captain Borg said: "It's been unbelievable tennis. Team World came once again very close but we won the right points and had maybe a bit of luck. I'm very proud of my team. I'm a very happy captain."

Losing Team World skipper McEnroe said: "I want to congratulate Team Europe. It was awesome. You found a way to get it done.

"I'm getting very sick and tired of you, I've got to say.

"I've got to congratulate my old buddy and rival Bjorn Borg for beating me once again, unfortunately.

"I'm so proud of these guys you fought your heart out."

The result means Europe have won all three editions of the Laver Cup, which was first held in Prague in 2017 and then contested in Chicago in 2018.

Rafael Nadal was forced to pull out of his singles and doubles matches on day three of the Laver Cup with an "inflamed hand".

The French Open and US Open champion had been set to feature in a high-profile doubles pairing with Roger Federer against John Isner and Jack Sock in the opening match of Sunday's play.

Nadal was also set to take on Nick Kyrgios in singles later in the day, having been beaten by the Australian in a doubles contest late on Saturday.

But that match the previous day, in which Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas lost to Kyrgios and Sock, meant the Spaniard was not able to recover in time.

He complained of inflammation to his left hand on Sunday morning - an issue he says he has dealt with for "a couple of years" - and Tsitsipas was called in to take his place alongside Federer.

Thiem will play Kyrgios, meanwhile, with Team Europe aiming to wrap up a third straight title, carrying a narrow 7-5 lead into the final day.

Nadal said: "I am sad, of course. I was excited to play the doubles with Roger obviously - that's the thing that makes me more sad because, in singles, I know Dominic is going to be there and he's going to do unbelievably.

"Since a couple of years ago, I've had this bad feeling on the hand. It's an inflamation of the hand - not the wrist.

"Yesterday, I played and sometimes the next day you are a little bit better, sometimes you are a little bit worse. Today, I think it's a little bit more inflamed.

"This morning, I woke up with that feeling that something is inflamed on the hand and I texted Roger and Thomas [Enqvist, vice-captain] and Bjorn [Borg, captain].

"We needed to find a solution because I don't think I'm the right one to play today and we have a great team without me being 100 per cent. All the guys are unbelievable."

He added: "Now, let's support and hopefully we can achieve this."

Nick Kyrgios bounced back from a tough defeat to Roger Federer to keep Team World in the mix for a breakthrough Laver Cup victory in a doubles success alongside Jack Sock.

Europe, who have won the prior two editions of the competition, lead 7-5 heading into the final day, but they might have had one hand on the trophy already if not for Kyrgios.

A home side able to name a line-up where each of their six players are ranked higher than John Isner, their opponents' top star, celebrated singles triumphs for Federer and Rafael Nadal but found Kyrgios in determined mood late on Saturday evening.

Team World had struck first to level the contest at 3-3, with wins on the second day worth two points - double their first-day value, while third-day victories earn three.

Isner saw opponent Alexander Zverev fall apart and clinched a 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 10-1 success.

Pegged back, matters looked to be going from bad to worse for Europe when the dangerous Kyrgios took the first set against Federer.

But the Swiss veteran recovered to triumph 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 10-7 and it appeared to be plain sailing from there, with Nadal winning the final singles contest of the day, easing past Milos Raonic 6-3 7-6 (7-1) to regain complete control of the competition.

"Being here for me is a very positive energy," Nadal said. "I like being around such a great team and the crowd is amazing.

"I feel very lucky [to win] the first set. I started to play better later in the match and I think I played a very good tie-break in the end."

The Spaniard was back on court to close out Saturday's play, teaming up with Stefanos Tsitsipas, to take on Kyrgios and Sock.

However, Kyrgios gave an early indication of what was to come as he started in impressive fashion again with some blistering winners in an opener Team World dominated, breaking swiftly and protecting the serve with ease.

The Australian was guilty of gifting away the decisive first break in the second set, making a mess of a seemingly straightforward volley, before coming into his own again with the match level.

Nadal was too often left to plough a lone furrow by Tsitsipas and Kyrgios excelled at the net, greeting each European error in typically extravagant fashion.

Fittingly, after a one-sided tie-break, the match was clinched on Kyrgios' serve 6-4 3-6 10-6 to set up an intriguing final day.

Former world number one Andy Murray said he would love to play Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer before they retire, but only if he is capable of beating the 'Big Three'.

Murray looked set to retire following January's Australian Open, however, the three-time grand slam champion is on the comeback trail after hip resurfacing surgery.

The 32-year-old – who dropped down to ATP Challenger level to take part in the Rafael Nadal Open having skipped the US Open – is set to feature at the Shanghai Masters after accepting a wildcard.

Murray will spend a couple of weeks in the Far East, competing in the Zhuhai Championships and China Open as he eyes next year's Australian Open following a brief ATP Tour singles return in August.

Asked about renewing his battle with Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, Murray – who has played doubles this year to build his fitness – said: "I look forward to doing it if, physically, I am capable of competing with them.

"I don't look forward to going on the court against one of those guys and not feeling like I have a chance of winning which, if I played them tomorrow, that's how I would feel.

"When I practised with Novak in Australia at the beginning of this year, I found that hard, even though it was just practice. I felt terrible and I found that quite hard.

"If I'm able to compete against them and feel like I can win, even if it's a really small chance, then I will enjoy that, for sure. But, not feeling like I can be competitive and getting pumped, I probably wouldn't enjoy that."

Murray – now ranked 415 in the world – added: "I need matches just now. My body needs to build up some level of robustness. That's the reason for entering the [four straight] tournaments.

"And if I'm not getting matches [because of early defeats in each event] I'm at least around, practising with top players, getting my body more used to the speed and things."

As first Novak Djokovic and then Roger Federer exited the US Open, leaving the draw wide open for Rafael Nadal, there was legitimate cause for concern the men's singles final would be what it was for the previous two years: a forgettable, one-sided encounter far from befitting of the occasion.

Nadal and Djokovic ran roughshod over Kevin Anderson and Juan Martin del Potro in 2017 and 2018 respectively, with neither able to provide enough of a test to produce a spectacle worthy of being retained in the memory for too long.

To watch Nadal, Djokovic and Federer overwhelm an opponent is a sight to behold. The sporting soliloquies they frequently deliver against those outside their ceaselessly dominant trident are regularly compelling simply for the mastery they display when brushing aside inferior foes.

However, grand slam finals are not the stage for such one-man shows. In this arena more than any other, two protagonists are needed for the headline act to live up to the billing.

On Sunday, Nadal was lucky enough to share the Arthur Ashe court with the tournament's chief protagonist, and he and Daniil Medvedev combined to produce a four-hour-and-49-minute drama that nobody who was lucky enough to have a seat in the stadium will forget in a hurry.

It seemed extremely unlikely that Medvedev - the man who became the leading storyline of an often drab men's tournament after aiming a middle-finger gesture towards the crowd in a third-round clash with Feliciano Lopez - would be able to provide the thrilling final-day flourish those packed inside the world's largest tennis stadium witnessed when Nadal took control of his 27th major final.

Medvedev himself conceded he was thinking about giving a speech after Nadal broke in the third set to take a 3-2 lead. However, he has consistently proven capable of finding inspiration from unexpected sources and at unexpected times.

He masterfully used the jeers of spectators to his advantage against Lopez and in the fourth round with Dominik Koepfer, goading the fans after matches while focusing on transforming their negative energy into a positive.

In his quarter-final with Stan Wawrinka he superbly switched his tactics to exhaust the Swiss by getting him on the run with drop shots and lobs, finding a way to survive and advance having been in a dire situation as a thigh injury left him believing retirement or defeat was inevitable.

Medvedev felt the latter was a formality as Nadal moved through the gears in the final, but once again he discovered life when it looked least likely to arrive.

"I was like, 'Okay, okay, just fight for every point, don't think about these things.' It worked out not bad," said the Russian.

It worked out significantly better than not bad. Medvedev's desire, excellent movement on the baseline and ability to put so many balls back in play led to uncharacteristic errors from Nadal that saw him surrender the initiative, setting in motion a recovery nobody foresaw but one suddenly everybody except those in the Nadal camp desperately wanted.

A dramatic twist worthy of Broadway turned everything on its head, including the crowd, who shockingly swayed to the man they once loathed as they chanted Medvedev's name, making clear their desire to see the match extended into a fourth set.

Medvedev obliged and, with renewed belief, ploughed on in search of one of the greatest comebacks in grand slam history, which looked a very real possibility when he met a 107mph Nadal serve out wide with a perfectly placed two-handed backhand winner to force a decider.

His extraordinary revival made for an astonishing spectacle as it led to a gripping, undulating conclusion in which crowd support swung one way and then the other as both players somehow summoned the energy to deliver the finale this captivating contest deserved.

Medvedev had three break points in the second game of the fifth but could take none of them, Nadal finding depth and accuracy off both wings, and it was the Spaniard who just about proved to have more in the tank, surging into – and then almost losing – a 5-2 lead.

Nadal withstood a final show of Medvedev character and a break point that would have levelled the match once more and immediately fell flat on his back when an overhit forehand return secured a 7-5 6-3 5-7 4-6 6-4 success and his fourth US Open title, with the now 19-time major champion quick to acknowledge the 23-year-old's part in making this one of his most emotional triumphs.

"Daniil created this moment, too. The way that he fought, the way that he played, it's a champion way. I really believe that he will have many more chances," said Nadal at his media conference.

"These kind of matches in the final of grand slams makes the match more special. The way that the match became very dramatic at the end, that makes this day unforgettable."

Medvedev will take little solace in his incredible role in a losing cause. The story of the 2019 US Open men's singles will always end with Nadal tearfully clutching the trophy, but it is a tale that will not be able to be told without recalling how Medvedev made it one worth listening to, and how he ultimately saved the final slam of the year from being another anti-climax.

Remember when Rafael Nadal was "finished"?

Without a grand slam title in nearly three years, a wrist injury plaguing his career and ongoing questions over his knee?

That was three years ago and feels more like a lifetime.

Since the start of 2017, Nadal has won five grand slams, the most recent of which was the US Open after an epic five-set victory over Daniil Medvedev in the final in New York on Sunday.

The Spanish great is up to 19 grand slam titles, just one shy of all-time men's record holder Roger Federer, while he pushed three clear of Novak Djokovic.

There was, perhaps rightly, a theory that Federer would have the best longevity of the 'Big Three', his style less reliant on the physicality of Nadal and Djokovic, whose relentlessness and gruelling approach from the baseline led to those suggestions.

But that has thus far proven to be wrong, and it is remarkably Nadal – with a remodelled serve helping his hard-court game this year – who has seriously starred since turning 30.

Federer turned 30 in August 2011, Nadal in June 2016 and Djokovic in May 2017.

In their 30s, Nadal has won five majors compared to four apiece for Federer and Djokovic, a tally few would have predicted and one that seems set to grow.

A battered body looked set to get the better of Nadal, but instead the majors in 2019 have belonged to him.

He finished with two grand slam titles and a 24-2 win-loss record – his best since going an extraordinary 25-1 in 2010.

At 33, there are some signs Nadal may be slowing down, and he unsurprisingly looked tired at times in the incredible clash with Medvedev that lasted almost five hours.

But he is showing he could be the king in the 30s of the 'Big Three', and he sure as anything is not finished yet.

At the end of his third-round match with Feliciano Lopez, Daniil Medvedev's relationship with the US Open fans seemed fractured beyond repair.

Hearing the boos that provided the soundtrack to his post-match on-court interview at Louis Armstrong Stadium after he had directed a middle-finger gesture at the fans following a disagreement with the umpire, it was impossible to believe Medvedev would be talking about leaving his heart out there for the New York crowd.

Yet that is what the Russian felt he had to do as he battled back from two sets down in a captivating five-set defeat to Rafael Nadal in the US Open final.

Medvedev seemed dead and buried in the match when he trailed 3-2 in the third having gone a break down.

The 23-year-old looked a spent force, but immediately responded and fought back magnificently. His name rang round Arthur Ashe Stadium as he recovered to win the third set, and a frenetic thrill ride of a final then swung dramatically in his direction as a punishing return gave him the decisive break in the fourth.

Nadal returned to being the crowd favourite as an enthralling match moved towards a nail-biting conclusion, with Medvedev unable to take advantage of break points at 1-1 and as the Spaniard served out the match.

Though he ultimately fell short in attempting to erase a 5-2 deficit in the decider, Medvedev's incredible effort and fighting spirit saw him definitively win back the affections of the Flushing Meadows public.

Speaking after his 7-5 6-3 5-7 4-6 6-4 loss, Medvedev was asked if he could have imagined having his name chanted by the crowd last week.

He replied: "I was being myself. I was fighting for every point. I think they appreciated it. Being break down in the third, I won the game, and I felt that these guys wanted some more tennis. They were cheering me up like crazy.

"I knew I had to leave my heart out there for them also. For myself first of all, but for them also. I think they saw it and they appreciate it. I'm thankful to them for this.

"The only thing going through my mind at this moment was I have to win next point, I have to win next game. I was not thinking too much, 'Okay, I'm from Russia, I'm in USA, they are cheering my name, what should I do?' No.

"It was a pleasure to be out there tonight. They were sometimes cheering my name, sometimes they were going for Rafa. I think it was just because the arena is so huge, there were so many people cheering both names, it was like changing all the time. I don't think it will be same people cheering two different names from one point to another.

"The atmosphere was the best of my life, I have to say."

Medvedev demonstrated incredible levels of endurance during his four hours, 49 minutes on court.

Asked if he could see himself competing at the same level at 33 years old, as Nadal continues to do, Medvedev said: "I do see myself at 33 years running and competing like Rafael Nadal.

"Although Rafa said it himself, that he changed his game a lot from younger age to be able to compete at the highest level. Maybe I'll have to do the same. This I cannot know."

Daniil Medvedev described Rafael Nadal's 19th grand slam title as "unbelievable" and "outrageous" as he lauded the US Open champion.

Nadal moved within slam trophy of Roger Federer's record men's haul after outlasting Medvedev 7-5 6-3 5-7 4-6 6-4 in New York on Sunday.

Contesting his maiden major final, Medvedev was staring at a straight-sets defeat before the fifth seed produced a stunning rally at Flushing Meadows.

But Nadal withstood Medvedev's comeback to prevail after almost five hours on court inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, where fans were brought to their feet in appreciation.

Nadal was reduced to tears after closing in on Federer's grand slam tally and Medvedev heaped praise on the 33-year-old Spaniard afterwards.

"I just want to congratulate Rafa – 19th grand slam title is something unbelievable, outrageous," Medvedev said during the trophy presentation.

"I want to congratulate him and his team, you guys are doing an amazing job, the way you are playing is a big joke, it's very tough to play against you and you know when I was looking on the screen and they were showing number one, number two, number 19, I was like, 'if I would win, what would they show?'

"Again, what you've done for tennis in general I mean, I think 100 million kids watching you play want to play tennis and it's amazing for our sport, thank you and congrats again."

Medvedev – the villain throughout the season's final slam in the Big Apple – emerged from the jaws of defeat to almost pull off one of the greatest comebacks.

After clawing his way from a break down in the third set to prolong the final, Medvedev then saved two match points in the ninth game of the decider before Nadal eventually slumped to the floor in celebration.

Asked how he turned it around, Medvedev replied: "To be honest in my mind I was already [thinking], 'OK, what do I say in the speech? It's going to be soon, in 20 minutes, losing in three sets in the first final, trying to give a fight but not really, so I was like OK, anyway, I have to fight for every ball and I have to see how it goes' and it went far, but unfortunately didn't go my way.

"I want to talk about you guys [the crowd]. I know earlier in the tournament I said something kind of in a bad way and now I'm saying it in a good way, it's because of your energy guys that I was here in the final. Tonight is going to be always in my mind because I played in the biggest court in the tennis world and in the third set where I was already thinking which speech should I give, you guys were pushing me to prolong this match because you want to see more tennis and because of you guys I was fighting like hell.

"As I said, it's electric. You were booing me for a reason, I never said that it was not, but you guys see that I can also change because I'm a human being, I can make mistakes, and again thank you very much from the bottom of my heart."

An emotional Rafael Nadal labelled his epic US Open final win over Daniil Medvedev a "crazy match" after clinching his 19th grand slam title.

Nadal edged Medvedev 7-5 6-3 5-7 4-6 6-4 in an extraordinary decider that lasted four hours, 49 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday, moving within one of Roger Federer's tally of 20 major titles.

The Spanish great gave up a two-sets-to-love lead and then saw Medvedev rally from 5-2 down before he closed out his fourth US Open title.

Nadal said it was an incredible encounter and he paid tribute to Medvedev, who has the most wins on the ATP Tour this year.

"This victory means a lot, especially the way the match became so difficult, so tough," he said in an on-court interview.

"I was able to hold at the end the nerves because the nerves were so high after having the match almost under control, 5-2, 5-4, break point. It has been a crazy match. I'm just emotional."

Nadal added: "It was an amazing final. It seemed that I had more or less the match under control, but honestly first word I have to say is to Daniil.

"His summer is just one of the best summers I ever saw in this sport since I was playing so, everybody saw why he is the number four player in the world already, only at 23 years old, so many congratulations for everything."

A video was played in Arthur Ashe after the final, with each of Nadal's grand slam titles featured in an emotional tribute.

The 33-year-old, who received multiple time violations during the final, had special thanks for the crowd in New York.

"It has been one of the most emotional nights in my tennis career," Nadal said.

"With that video, with all the support, all of you guys have been just amazing. Normally, I take it for the last thing but today it's going to be the first thing, thank you very, very much everybody in this stadium, [you] have been amazing energy.

"It's a real pleasure and honour to play in front of all of you in this amazing stadium. I think there is not one stadium that is more energetic than this one so many, many thanks for everything."

Rafael Nadal moved within one of Roger Federer's grand slam tally, edging Daniil Medvedev in an epic US Open final to claim his 19th major title on Sunday.

Nadal was pushed to the limit by first-time grand slam finalist Medvedev in a thrilling decider, eventually prevailing 7-5 6-3 5-7 4-6 6-4 after four hours, 49 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The Spanish great secured his second major of 2019 and moved within one of Federer, who holds the all-time men's record for most grand slam titles with 20.

Medvedev, who has the most wins on the ATP Tour this year and has played the role of villain in New York, looked set to cause a momentous upset, only for Nadal to edge through the fifth set.

The 23-year-old Russian won just three games against Nadal in the Rogers Cup final a month ago, yet almost became the second player in history to beat the left-hander after losing the first two sets to the 33-year-old at a grand slam.

The win meant the 'Big Three' of Nadal, Federer and Novak Djokovic swept the grand slams for the third straight year, a feat they last achieved between 2006 and 2008.

In what was a high-quality start, there was early drama as Nadal produced an around-the-net winner and was given a time violation in the opening game.

The duo then traded breaks, Nadal mishitting a forehand into the bottom of the net to give Medvedev a 2-1 lead, only for the Russian to send a backhand well long to fail to consolidate.

Nadal's pressure – Medvedev fended off three break points in the eighth game and was again tested in the 10th – paid off at the perfect time, landing the break and opening set when his opponent put a backhand volley into the net.

Medvedev recovered from 0-40 to hold for 2-2 in the second set, but there was no denying Nadal in the sixth game, a deep return leading to an error and a break as the second seed took complete control.

Nadal gave up a break lead midway through the third set and Medvedev fought hard – the villain threatening to turn hero as he earned chants from the Arthur Ashe crowd – before spectacularly taking the set with a backhand winner down the line.

Suddenly, it was Medvedev – calm and composed – looking the better of the two players as Nadal seemed to be tiring, a tough hold in the second game of the fourth set coming as the Spaniard tried to fire himself up.

Nadal looked the more likely to break until Medvedev did just that, ripping an incredible backhand return winner down the line to force a fifth set.

Medvedev needed treatment on his thigh before the deciding set, Nadal saving three break points in the second game, including one after a second time violation saw him denied a first serve.

Nadal landed the first break of the final set, ending an incredible point with a backhand cross-court winner to take a 3-2 lead.

Nadal won four straight games before handing a break back following another time violation, this one leading to a double fault, and Medvedev bravely saved two match points in the ninth game.

The topsy-turvy encounter continued as Nadal saved a break point with a big forehand, his fourth US Open title secured when Medvedev sent a return long.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Rafael Nadal [2] bt Daniil Medvedev [5] 7-5 6-3 5-7 4-6 6-4

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 62/46
Medvedev – 75/57

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 5/5
Medvedev – 14/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 6/21
Medvedev – 5/15

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Nadal – 58
Medvedev – 64

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Nadal – 77/52
Medvedev – 65/54

TOTAL POINTS
Nadal – 177
Medvedev – 164

For even the most casual tennis observer, the term 'Next Gen' has been an impossible one to avoid in recent years.

The ATP has been relentless in promoting its Next Generation, the best singles players on the tour aged 21 and under. It created a Next Generation ATP Finals in 2017, but the argument that there actually is a new group of stars ready to assume the mantle from three of the greatest of all time will not gain credence until the trio's run of grand slam dominance is brought to a halt.

Not since Stan Wawrinka's triumph at the 2016 US Open has anyone other than Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer lifted a grand slam trophy, with Dominic Thiem's two defeats to the Spaniard the closest any of the supposed heir apparents have come to ending that run.

However, the idea there is life after the 'Big Three' could gain significant steam when the US Open comes to an end on Sunday, when one former Next Gen ATP finals participant contests the final with Nadal having been the story of the men's draw at Flushing Meadows.

As Djokovic and Federer suffered, by their incredible standards, early exits and Nadal motored his way through the draw, Daniil Medvedev has stolen the limelight.

Much of the attention he has received has come off the back of his controversial third-round match with Feliciano Lopez, in which he was seen to show a middle-finger to the crowd amid a disagreement with the umpire, making him public enemy number one, a role he accepted with relish.

Yet all the hype around the boos and the joy he has taken in receiving them has helped bring the quality of his game into focus.

A third-place finisher in the inaugural Next Gen Finals, Medvedev has demonstrated extraordinary defence, excellent movement, a strong serve and enough power to live with any player on tour.

Unbeaten in 11 matches, the world number five also displayed an ability to adapt his game to the situation, his performance on one good leg against Wawrinka, in which he worked the Swiss around the court with the drop shot and lob, among the finest of any seen in the men's draw in 2019.

That showing, and his subsequent straight-sets defeat of Grigor Dimitrov, will have raised hope that Medvedev is good enough to beat Nadal, even with the 18-time major champion appearing invincible in New York.

Should that prove to be the case, the continual disappointments of the likes of Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas will be forgotten.

Yet the only history Nadal and Medvedev have together is not on the Russian's side.

Medvedev's last defeat came on a hard court against Nadal, who crushed him 6-3 6-0 in the final of the Rogers Cup. Nadal, for his part, does not read too much into that going into a contest with a player whose 50 match wins is the most on the ATP Tour this year.

"Of course, [it] helps a little bit. But honestly, I think he's making the steps forward every single day," Nadal said at a media conference. "I will face the player who has won more matches this year, and the player who is playing at the highest level for a while."

It is a final defined by a fascinating narrative, the world's in-form player against an all-time great, bidding to keep the 'big three' streak alive at a tournament where the defeats and injuries suffered by Djokovic and Federer has made the era seem closer to its end than ever before.

Nadal, though, is not motivated by thoughts of keeping their superiority intact.

"We don't need to hold this era anymore," said Nadal. "We have been here for 15 years almost. [It's] going to happen sooner than later that this era is going to end. It's arriving.

"I am 33. Novak is 32. Roger is 38. Andy [Murray] is 32, too. The clock is not stopping. That's part of the cycle of life.

"I'm not worried about this because in tennis there is always going to be great champions."

There will always be great champions but, if Medvedev becomes one in New York, it will be the clearest sign yet that the ATP's 'Next Generation' is finally becoming its present.

It will be a familiar scenario for Rafael Nadal when he faces Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final on Sunday.

Nadal will be taking on a first-time grand slam finalist for the third successive year.

Six of Nadal's previous 26 major finals have been against debutants in that arena and the Spaniard has predictably dominated such matchups.

Here we look back at the 18-time grand slam champion's record against first-timers ahead of what should be an intriguing battle with Medvedev.

 

2005 French Open v Mariano Puerta: Won 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-1 7-5

Nadal's first major final saw him battle another debutant in Mariano Puerta at Roland Garros. The Argentinian took the first set in a tie-break but Nadal dominated from there to complete a 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-1 7-5 win.

It would mark the start of nine French Open wins in 10 years as Nadal solidified his reputation as the King of Clay. Puerta, meanwhile, received a second suspension for a doping offence and never returned to such a stage.

2010 Wimbledon v Tomas Berdych: Won 6-3 7-5 6-4

Two years after he won arguably the greatest ever final at the All England Club by beating Roger Federer in five sets, Nadal enjoyed a much more serene victory in what still stands as Berdych's sole major final.

Nadal saw off Andy Murray in the semi-finals while Berdych had stunningly beaten Federer and then Novak Djokovic to progress to the final. However, he ran out of steam against Nadal in routine fashion.

2013 French Open v David Ferrer: Won 6-3 6-2 6-3

Nadal had to come through an epic five-setter with Djokovic in the last four to reach the final but still had far too much for his compatriot, losing just eight games across three sets.

The victory secured his eighth French Open title but he would have to wait four more years for La Decima.

2014 Australian Open v Stan Wawrinka: Lost 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3

Wawrinka had fallen just short in his previous grand slam, losing in the semi-finals at the 2013 US Open, but the Swiss was inspired in Melbourne as he defeated Djokovic in five sets in the quarter-finals and needed under two and a half hours to see off Nadal.

The Spaniard did win the third set to suggest a comeback was on the cards, but this was Wawrinka's day and he served the fourth out to win the first of three major titles.

2017 US Open v Kevin Anderson: Won 6-3 6-3 6-4

Nadal enjoyed a remarkable 2017, reaching three major finals after many thought his days of contending for slams were over.

He lost a five-set thriller to Federer in Australia before completing La Decima against Wawrinka in Paris.

A stunning year was rounded off in New York as the absence of Djokovic and Murray and Federer's quarter-final exit opened up the draw, with surprise package Anderson the beneficiary.

Nadal made light work of the big-serving South African, though, and faces another player who profited from an open draw on Sunday. Medvedev, however, promises to present a much stiffer challenge.

2018 French Open v Dominic Thiem: Won 6-4 6-3 6-2

The first of two meetings with the Austrian in the decider at Roland Garros was much more one-sided than the second, though he still needed two hours and 42 minutes to see off Thiem.

Thiem took a set off Nadal a year later in a rematch, indicating the possible start of an intriguing clay-court rivalry in the coming years.

If his performances at Flushing Meadows are any evidence, Nadal should see plenty more of Medvedev in the latter stages of his career.

Matteo Berrettini was proud of the bravery he displayed against Rafael Nadal in a US Open experience that has convinced him he "can be really dangerous".

World number 25 Berrettini's hopes of reaching a first grand slam final were dashed by a 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-1 defeat to Nadal, who is one win away from his 19th major singles triumph – one fewer than Roger Federer's record.

The 23-year-old Italian, who has claimed two ATP Tour titles this year, was pleased with his run to the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows and the tennis he played, having struggled with an ankle injury since his fourth-round exit to Federer at Wimbledon.

Asked what he would take away from his efforts in New York, Berrettini said: "A lot of things, I guess. First of all, I'm still learning the tennis. It's really weird. I was coming here with not a lot of confidence. I was injured. I didn't play a good match in Cincinnati [in a loss against Juan Ignacio Londero]. I didn't expect to do such a great tournament.

"I'm learning to be ready. Every match is important. Every point is important – this one for sure. Then all the matches, you have to be focused and ready to get the chances that you're making.

"I think when I have the right attitude on the court, I can play with any guys. If I'm focusing, if I'm playing my tennis, I can be really dangerous. That's really important to have this confidence."

The meeting with Nadal could have gone very differently had Berrettini been able to convert either of the two set points that came his way in the opening tie-break.

"Winning the first set would have meant I think a lot. Especially with him, it's tough to go a set down after an hour, more than an hour, with him," he said.

"But I was feeling I was playing really good, even though he had a lot of chances on my serve. I think I played also good important points. I mean, I was brave, like I asked of myself.

"I couldn't say anything bad. I cannot complain about what I did. I was playing with Rafa, centre court, in the semis. I think it's okay."

Berrettini, who lost in straight sets and took just five games against Federer at Wimbledon, added: "The last time I played one of the big three [it] didn't go that well. The feelings I had on court for sure was an unbelievable experience. I didn't have so many chances. I think I learned a lot from the match in Wimbledon.

"I was more ready. I was feeling also that the next time I'm going to play Rafa, I'll be more ready because I didn't ever play him even in practice. I didn't know what to expect a lot.

"I think this match will help me a lot to improve my tennis, my everything, and for sure be ready for him the next time."

Rafael Nadal will unquestionably go down as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, and another of the sport's legends was honoured at the US Open before his semi-final.

The man known as Rocket Rod received recognition for a feat no player has been able to replicate, before taking in Nadal's straight-sets win over Matteo Berrettini.

Nadal set up a final with Daniil Medvedev, who defeated Grigor Dimitrov, but the winner of their clash will have to go some way to match the celebrations that marked the end of the men's doubles showpiece.

Omnisport's man on the ground, Nicholas McGee, provides the details in our daily diary from New York.

 

GOOD WEATHER FOR DUCKS

Very little play was possible on the outside courts as heavy rain persisted throughout day 12.

Those dressed for warmer weather may have needed to make an emergency purchase to stay dry.

Thankfully the US Open shop has plenty of options for those needing to wrap up.

It is said rain is good weather for ducks and there are plenty of the rubber variety on offer for those looking to make the bizarre move of adding tennis memorabilia to their bathroom.

FARAH AND CABAL GO BACK TO BACK

Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal secured back-to-back grand slam titles at Arthur Ashe Stadium as the Colombian men's doubles team overcame Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos 6-4 7-5.

The crowd was filled with fans wearing Colombia national football team jerseys, who greeted the pair claiming match point with a huge roar.

Farah is expecting wilder celebrations when they return to their homeland, telling a post-match media conference: "The way Colombia received us when we came back from Wimbledon was really breathtaking. I don't even want to think about how crazy it's gonna be now that we come back from the US Open.

"I think that back-to-back is quite an achievement, and we just have to say, thank you, Colombia, for all that support and the good vibes they always give us. We are very happy to represent our country in the way that we are doing it."

ROCKET ROD HONOURED

Rod Laver has been in attendance throughout the tournament at Flushing Meadows, and on Friday the 50th anniversary of his second Grand Slam was celebrated.

Laver is the only man in history to win the calendar Grand Slam twice, his second coming at the 1969 US Open.

To honour that incredible achievement, Laver was presented with a replica of the US Open trophy and then with a plaque from representatives of all four major tournaments as the Arthur Ashe crowd came to its feet to show its appreciation for Rocket Rod.

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