Nadal stands in the way of pre-tournament favourite Medvedev
Both Daniil Medvedev and Rafa Nadal earned four-set victories on Friday in the men's singles semi-finals, with Medvedev getting past adversary Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Nadal picking up a winner for us with his victory over Matteo Berrettini.
Standing in the way of Medvedev's second consecutive hard court Grand Slam title is Nadal, after the Russian got the better of Novak Djokovic in straight sets at the US Open, and this is the third hard court slam in a row which Medvedev has at least made the final. As I've mentioned a few times this season already, there's a pretty decent argument to be made that Medvedev is the best hard courter on tour right now, regardless of Djokovic's participation in events.
Medvedev shorter-priced than in previous meetings
Following Djokovic's withdrawal, Medvedev was the pre-tournament favourite and he remains so. He's 1.594/7 to defeat Nadal tomorrow, and this is the second back-to-back match where Medvedev has been a pre-match favourite against the King of Clay. The previous meeting was at the ATP Finals at the end of 2020, a match where Medvedev was priced around 1.9010/11 and nicked a very tight three-setter.
Data suggests Medvedev with marginal edge
In the tournament so far, it's actually Nadal with the better data. He's won around 4% more return points with both excelling on serve, holding just shy of 95% of the time. Nadal has a higher set win percentage, a higher games win percentage and higher points won percentage in this year's Australian Open, so regardless of his status as pre-match underdog, the Spaniard should be pretty confident about his chances of yet another Grand Slam title.
However, longer-term data gives Medvedev the edge. It's not huge, but backs up my assertion that he's the best hard courter on tour right now, but both players have over 110% combined service/return points won percentages, the mark of a true elite player.
With all the above considered, though, there really isn't that much evidence to suggest that Medvedev should be this short for what looks likely, from a data perspective, to be a pretty competitive match. It's not a strong lean, but Nadal to spring a surprise in the final is the last recommendation of the 2022 Australian Open.
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