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Rafael Nadal backs Daniil Medvedev in attempt at ending Novak Djokovic dominance

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DANIIL MEDVEDEV is vying to become the new world No 1 this week.

Rafael Nadal has given his verdict on Daniil Medvedev’s chances of becoming world No 1 this week. The Russian could become the first man outside of the ‘Big Four’ to hold the top spot of the rankings since 2004 after a successful last year including the US Open title and Australian Open runner-up spot.

Medvedev has been one of the most dominant players on tour in the last year, enjoying a strong rivalry with Novak Djokovic last season.

He lost to the Serb in the 2021 Australian Open final before denying him the chance to win the Calendar Slam and a record 21st Major title in the US Open final, lifting his own maiden Grand Slam title.

And he could now steal the top spot of the rankings from Djokovic with his appearance in Acapulco this week.

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The Russian is hot on the heels of the current world No 1 and is bidding to become the first man to break down the Big Four era of Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Djokovic and Nadal since 2004

The last player outside of the Big Four to sit at the top of the rankings was Andy Roddick on February 1 of that year.

More than 18 years later, Medvedev is gunning to be the first since the American to take the No 1 position away from what many have dubbed the golden generation of male players.

His chances of reaching the top spot depend on Djokovic’s own performance at the ATP 500 in Dubai, but even if the Serb can lift his sixth title at the event, Medvedev would still be No 1 with a title win in Acapulco.

Djokovic has already admitted he would be the first person to congratulate the 26-year-old, with whom he enjoys a good off-court relationship, were he to take the top spot of the rankings.

Now Nadal has weighed in on Medvedev’s potential new milestone, having denied the Russian the chance to reach world No 1 when he defeated him from two sets down in last month’s Australian Open final.

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“It’s obvious that sooner or later it’s going to happen,” the Spaniard said in Acapulco, where he is also competing in this week’s ATP 500 event.

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The 21-time Grand Slam champion reflected on the era of the Big Four’s dominance at the world No 1 spot coming to an end, admitting he and his rivals were hindered by their inability to play as frequently throughout the season.

He continued: “Novak is 34, 35 this year, I am 36, Roger is 40.

“The watch never stops, that’s the circle of life, the younger generation is coming and is going to [overtake us] in the rankings because we can’t afford [to play] a 100% full calendar and because they are very good.”

While Medvedev is part of a young generation pushing for the biggest titles, including world Nos 3 and 4 Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, Nadal thought it was the US Open champion who deserved to be in with a shot at the top ranking this week.

“Daniil is a very solid player, he is having an amazing career and he deserves to be fighting for number one without a doubt.

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“So, I wish him all the best.”