Pablo Carreño's roguery to stop Medvedev (and that Nadal did not do in Rio)

Pablo Carreño has been classified at men’s singles tennis tournament semi-finals, where he can fight for the medals, but must defeat Karen Kachanov to know if it will be for the gold or for the bronze. The Asturian achieved a spectacular victory against the number two in the world, Daniil Medvedev, in a match where the Spanish showed a incredible level to end the resistance of the Russian giant … and in which he knew how to defeat his rival ‘psychologically’ at the key moment.

To understand what happened this Thursday in Tokyo, we have to go to Rio 2016. Rafa Nadal had lost in the semifinals against Juan Martin del Potro, in an epic match in which the Argentine ended the resistance of the Balearic Islands. Eliminated from the match for gold, he would fight for bronze against Kei Nishikori, who would take the first set 2-6: Nadal, very tired, could not with the level of the Japanese, who saw the possibility of hanging the bronze medal nearby …, but Rafa never gives up.

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In a second anthological set, Nadal not only did not give up the game for lost, instead he went back to Nishikori and took the sleeve 7 to 6, at which point the unexpected happened. The Japanese went to the locker room after losing the second set … and was there for 11 minutes! The Spaniard, incredulous, asked the chair umpire, Carlos Bernades, what was happening: “I can’t tell him anything about going to the locker room,” said the Brazilian. “Well, I’m going to have a Coca-Cola,” Nadal answered ironic.

The Spaniard could not believe that this was happening at the Olympics. Nishikori just wanted to slow down Nadal’s upward pace, freeze the game, drive him out of his mind, change the dynamics and avoid defeat… and he got it. After more than 10 minutes in the dressing room, he returned to court and the Spanish left the game. It was unable to regain the high level who had shown in the second set and lost the third set 3-6, to be left without a painful medal.

Well, five years later something similar has happened again. Carreño started his game with a superlative level, hitting shots of all colors, being a wall on the other side of the court and making Medvedev desperate, who I was just chasing shadows down the track, unable to stop the gale of the Spanish. The Asturian took the first sleeve by 6 to 2 … and the ghosts of Nishikori returned: Medvedev grabbed his gym bag and went to the locker room without saying a word.

Several minutes after leaving, the Spanish asked for explanations, without understanding what was happening or where his rival was. No one gave him an answer and then decided to take his little ‘revenge’. Medvedev’s movement, like Nishikori’s five years ago, I was looking to cut Carreño’s rhythm and start a ‘new game’. After almost eight minutes, the Russian returned to the track …, but then Carreño, when he saw him appear, decided to grab a towel and leave too.

It was only a short minute, no more, but long enough to send a message to Medvedev: ‘Don’t give me these psychological games, I know how to do them too’. Even so, the Russian started the second set well, breaking Carreño’s serve in the third game, but the Spaniard overcame: he had more tennis, more physicality and much more hunger for victory. He clung to the track like a titan and smashed his rival with deep blows and a great defense that despaired of his rival.

Carreño took a giant step in Tokyo and fulfilled what he said more than a month ago before the tournament began: “I see myself with medal options in Tokyo”. And, for the moment, he has gotten into the fight for metals: if he is able to win at Kachanov, he will fight for the gold medal and he will secure the silver; if he is defeated, he will still have the option to fight for the bronze. Everything is in his hands and depends on him: Pablo Carreño has a dream and nobody is going to take it away, not even with dirty tricks.

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