Daniil Medvedev on Sunday shattered Novak Djokovic’s Grand Slam dream with a straight sets victory in the US Open final, denying the world No. 1 a record-breaking 21st major men’s singles title.
Second-ranked Medvedev of Russia dominated Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to prevent the first calendar-year Grand Slam since 1969 and keep Djokovic level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal atop the career Slam title list.
Medvedev’s victory was anything but routine as he had to grit his teeth and battle through cramp to close out the match, keeping the pain hidden to avoid giving Djokovic the scent of blood.
“I started cramping at 5-3, I think because of the pressure at 5-2 where I had match points, I didn’t make it,” he told reporters. “My legs were gone after 5-3. At 5-4, left leg, I almost couldn’t walk.”
“If you really look the replay, when I walked to the towel, my leg was just going behind. I was trying not to show it. If Novak feels it, it’s not good,” Medvedev said.
Medvedev, the 2019 US Open runner-up, captured his first Grand Slam title in his third Slam final, a rematch of February’s Australian Open final, won in straight sets by the 34-year-old Serbian to launch his Slam quest.
“Sorry for you fans and Novak because we all know what he was going for,” Medvedev said. “What you have accomplished in your career... for me, you are the greatest tennis player in the history.”
“Congratulations to Daniil. Amazing match,” Djokovic said. “If there’s anyone that deserves a Grand Slam title right now, it’s you.”
Djokovic’s bid to sweep the US, French and Australian Opens and Wimbledon in the same year for the first time since Rod Laver did it 52 years ago collapsed at the last hurdle, with 83-year-old Aussie legend Laver among 23,700 watching at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“Simply stunning Daniil Medvedev, you stopped one of the greatest tonight,” Laver wrote on Twitter. “To win your first Grand Slam title is always special, to do it against a champion like Novak Djokovic is something else. Take heart Novak, the quest continues. Best wishes.”
Sitting after the match, tearful Djokovic said he was overcome with emotions.
“Relief,” he said. “I was glad it was over because the buildup for this tournament and everything that mentally, emotionally I had to deal with throughout the tournament in the last couple of weeks was just a lot.”
Djokovic paid tribute to the crowd that roared support for him even when all seemed lost down two sets and two breaks.
“Even though I have not won the match, my heart is filled with joy, and I’m the happiest man alive because you guys have made me feel special on the court,” Djokovic said. “You guys touch my soul. I’ve never felt like this in New York.”
“I do feel sorry for Novak because I cannot imagine what he feels,” Medvedev said.
Medvedev, 25, became the third Russian man to win a Grand Slam title after Yevgeny Kafelnikov at the 1996 French Open and 1999 Australian Open and Marat Safin at the 2000 US Open and 2005 Australian Open.
In the women’s doubles, a teary Coco Gauff demonstrated the age gap that had been on the court as she congratulated her opponents on their US Open victory.
Sam Stosur, she said, was the first pro tennis player to give her an autograph.
“Little bit of a scary thought,” 37-year-old Stosur said.
Stosur would not let the 17-year-old Gauff get her first Grand Slam title.
Stosur and Zhang Shuai on Sunday beat Gauff and Caty McNally 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 at Flushing Meadows, winning their second major doubles title together and denying the teenagers their first.
“For us, this was our second Grand Slam final together. I’ve been in a few more,” Stosur said. “It’s kind of like: ‘All right, I’ve done this a few more times than you, so I’ve got to try to use everything I’ve got.’”
Additional reporting by Reuters and AP
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