Rafael Nadal vs John Millman - US Open 2019 - First Round - Preview and Prediction
The World Number 2 and three-time US Open champion Rafael Nadal begins his campaign tonight clashing against last year's quarter-finalist- John Millman of Australia.
Millman can also be called as a danger-man as he shocked every tennis fan in the world by beating Roger Federer in four sets in the fourth round of the US Open last year.
He also made his debut Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance after winning that match. Federer had attributed his loss to the extreme heat conditions which unfortunately affected his rhythm and made him uncomfortable.
Millman has been far from impressive with his sub-standard performances in this year despite his talented gameplay.
He has crashed out early in Stuttgart, Roland Garros, Rome, Madrid, Estoril, Budapest, Monte Carlo, Miami, Indian Wells, Delray Beach, Australian Open and Brisbane owing to his dismal performances.
The only saving grace was a quarterfinal finish in 2 events – Sydney Open and Acapulco Open.
Besides, he also experimented by playing men's doubles with different players such as John Patrick-Smith, Taro Daniel, Mackenzie McDonald, Alexi Popyrin, Neal Skupski, Thomas Fabbiano, and Jordan Thompson but did not get any good results from that.
Millman would back himself against Nadal as he has defeated some good players such as Tiafoe, Lopez and Cecchinato. He has also lost some thrilling matches to Simon, Agut, Kyrgios, Isner, Zverev, Norrie and Johnson.
On the other hand, Nadal has had a nearly perfect year both in terms of performance and fitness. A remodelled serve and a more attacking game reaped gold for Nadal as he stormed into the Australian Open finals.
The possibility of a competitive final between the legends Djokovic and Nadal was ruined as the Spaniard lost in straight sets and had no answers to Djokovic's ruthless performance in a surprisingly one-sided final.
Chinks in his armour were noticed when he lost a nail-biting fired-up encounter with Nick Kyrgios in the Acapulco Open - round of 16.
Then came Nadal's favourite clay-court tournaments but he suffered three shocking losses in three semifinals in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Madrid to Fognini, Thiem, and Tsitsipas respectively.
He came back strongly to win the Rome Open defeating World Number 1- Novak Djokovic in the finals and was in perfect shape ahead of the French Open.
Nadal was the man to beat in the French Open but critics were questioning his wobbly form with his moniker as the King of Clay at stake. But he put all those talks to rest winning the French Open for a record 12th time, losing only two sets in the process, to Goffin and Thiem respectively.
Rafa continued his habit of not playing in any competitive tournament before Wimbledon. He just played in two exhibition matches and lost both to Cilic and Pouille respectively.
Nadal made a seamless transition to fast play on grass surface reaching the semi-finals which included a revenge win against Nick Kyrgios which had all the elements of a WWE match as arguments with the umpire, outrageous tweeners, a smash right on the player's body were all thrown in making the match a big entertainer.
Federer was too good in the semi-finals as he outlasted Nadal in four sets.
Nadal made a return to the Rogers Cup where he successfully defended his title thrashing the in-form Daniil Medvedev 6-3 6-0 in the finals. He made a good move opting out of the Cincinnati Open stating fatigue as the reason and directly plays in the US Open tonight.
Rafa would be oozing with confidence with the Rogers Cup triumph and would be raring to go against Millman. He should be aware of Millman's unpredictability though as a small flaw in his game can be utilized by Millman to the fullest extent.
Nadal has defeated some good names on the tour such as Tsitsipas, Khachanov, Agut, Felix Auger, Wawrinka, Djokovic, Goffin, Nishikori, Federer, Thiem, Kyrgios, Tsonga, Fognini and Medvedev this year and will be looking to continue the trend as he is 100% fit now.
He can have a deep run if his knee holds on despite the physically straining game that Nadal plays. He will definitely have memories of the painful retirement against Del Potro in the US Open semifinals last year.
Rafael Nadal and John Millman have met only once before and that was two years back in Wimbledon 2017 when Nadal romped to a straight-sets win.
He would aim to finish off his matches as soon as possible while Millman would be keen to play spoilsport and give Nadal a run for his money. A good start would make Nadal a force to reckon with in this competitive tournament.
Nadal has a lot at stake as he will be defending a lot of points this year while Millman has nothing to lose and will definitely look to prove that his shock win against Federer last year was not a flash in the pan.
Watch out for the powerful forehands and the long rallies from both the players. Under the lights with the best fighter in the house with excited fans in the biggest stadium in the world- Arthur Ashe, a great match is awaited tonight.
Rafael Nadal to win in straight sets.