Daniil Medvedev Wins U.S. Open, Novak Djokovic Falls Short of Grand Slam

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Novak Djokovic mentioned he was going to perform this match as if it were the previous of his career, that he was heading to pour just about every ounce of his heart and soul into attempting to do what several thought could ever be performed again.

It was not ample.

With a startling show of electrical power and creativity, Daniil Medvedev upset Djokovic, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, in the closing of the U.S. Open on Sunday, ending Djokovic’s bid to turn into the 1st man in 52 decades to win all four Grand Slam tournaments in a calendar year. It was just one previous twist in a match that overflowed with breathtaking performances.

For at least another calendar year, Rod Laver will keep on being the lone member of the most exceptional club in fashionable men’s tennis, and the 2021 U.S. Open will endlessly belong mostly to an 18-yr-old British female named Emma Raducanu, who went from staying the 150th-rated player to a Grand Slam champion in the most unlikely tennis tale of them all.

This was meant to be Djokovic’s instant, the working day that he would eventually surge previous Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and formally develop into the best participant of all time.

In its place, whatsoever spirits pull the strings of this uniquely exasperating activity intervened in the variety of a lanky 25-year-aged Russian, a neighbor of Djokovic’s in their adopted house of Monaco who is absolutely sure now to build any amount of uncomfortable encounters at Monte Carlo’s cafes and grocery merchants and at the nearby tennis club the place both of those of them prepare.

Medvedev began rapidly, breaking Djokovic’s serve in the initially sport of the match and supplying Djokovic couple probabilities to choose the very first established. That was not intended to subject. Djokovic, 34, had been shaky early in matches for two months, ahead of boosting his amount and storming back for gain following win. Certainly, he would flip the script after much more.

And he had the opening, a few break details on Medvedev’s first support sport, and then another with Medvedev serving at 1-2 in the 2nd set, when the sound method malfunctioned and interrupted just one of Medvedev’s serves, providing him a fresh prospect to help save the sport.

When Medvedev took that level and then yet another, the body weight of it all finally broke the gentleman who had seemed unbreakable. Djokovic dismantled his racket with a violent smack on a court that had sent him so many championships ahead of.

A game later, Medvedev curled a backhand onto Djokovic’s toes as he billed to the net, and when Djokovic’s volley floated extensive, the prospect to crush a dream was just a handful of far more online games and a person set absent.

“He was going for enormous record,” Medvedev stated. “Knowing that I managed to stop him, it absolutely makes it sweeter.”

Djokovic had crushed Medvedev most just lately in a lopsided battle in February for his ninth Australian Open title, a instant that appears to be a lifetime ago, when no a person was talking about anybody successful a Grand Slam.

And still, when the attract for the U.S. Open arrived out two months ago, it looked overwhelming for Djokovic. Matteo Berrettini, the massive-serving Italian, loomed in the quarterfinals. Alexander Zverev, the proficient German who knocked off Djokovic at the Olympics and was the hottest participant in the planet at the start out of this tournament, was likely to be his semifinal foe. And if Djokovic could get by means of individuals players, he was most probable going to meet up with Medvedev, the world’s 2nd very best participant, whose sport, a beguiling mix of electricity and spins, appears to mature a lot more unsafe with each passing thirty day period. He was a fitting closing impediment for Djokovic in the hunt for their sport’s most important prize.

Medvedev stands 6 ft 6 inches tall and is as skinny as a bamboo pole. At 1st glance, he appears to be like like nobody’s concept of a professional athlete. He will scurry about the court creating photographs that couple of can see coming, then bomb an ace or pound a flat backhand down the line.

Coming into the tournament, standard wisdom held that the only way to conquer Djokovic was to get the racket out of his palms with so many unreturnable balls that just one of the greatest defenders in the activity would not be in a position to endure the onslaught.

Medvedev did that and so a great deal extra, pushing Djokovic again on his heels and handcuffing him at the net on these handful of points that make your mind up each tennis match, with heritage on the line and 23,000 enthusiasts desperate to witness it.

For Djokovic, the loss shipped a disappointment that pretty much no one but Serena Williams could understand. She had been the last player to enter the year’s ultimate main championship with a shot at the Grand Slam. She, also, fell to an underdog, Roberta Vinci of Italy, on the same court docket in Arthur Ashe Stadium, in the 2015 semifinals.

On a individual level, this decline most very likely stung Djokovic in a way that Williams might under no circumstances have felt. Djokovic has put in most of his grownup everyday living chasing legends who claimed this activity as their personal just a several decades in advance of he burst onto the scene. He proved early on that he could be the equivalent of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, then sagged back, only to come back again stronger and repeat the cycle time and once again.

He entered this event tied with Federer and Rafael Nadal in the race for the most job Grand Slam titles, with 20. He desperately would like that record, to seal his legacy as the finest player in tennis record.

Djokovic’s compatriots from Serbia worship him, but he has been primarily unloved elsewhere, until Sunday, when seemingly everyone desired to see him supply. Djokovic has invested a lot more time ranked as the earth No. 1 than Nadal or Federer, and is the only 1 who has a winning file in opposition to those people two chief rivals. Still very little would declare him as the best of all like successful the four Grand Slam tournaments in a one 12 months.

Federer and Nadal have never come near, and most likely in no way will. This 12 months, Djokovic defeat Nadal in his kingdom in Paris, wherever he has gained 13 French Open up titles. Then Djokovic captured Wimbledon for a sixth time in July, on the grass that Federer has lengthy treated like his front garden.

He could not get the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo this summer season for the fourth jewel of the so-termed Golden Slam, something only Steffi Graf has accomplished.

Djokovic soaked up the adoration of his fellow athletes in the Olympic Village, but missing to to Zverev in the semifinals and then to Pablo Carreño Busta in the bronze medal match. The warmth and weight of the journey ended up beginning to acquire their toll.

Djokovic took approximately a thirty day period off from opposition, then arrived to New York to end his mission, to make things right. A year ago he swatted a ball in anger immediately after getting rid of the 1st set of his fourth-spherical U.S. Open up match, without any regard for the place the ball was headed. It rocketed towards the throat of a line judge, necessitating an automatic disqualification.

Djokovic’s initially six matches at the 2021 U.S. Open followed a mainly familiar sample — some early shakiness, such as losses in first sets of four consecutive matches, before Djokovic the assassin emerged to consider care of organization.

It took 5 sets versus Zverev in the semifinal. When that was more than, and there was just one particular match to go, Djokovic embraced the sizing of the moment at hand — with his coronary heart and his soul and everything else he experienced. Absolutely, that would be plenty of.

Tennis, although, can be so hard from time to time, even for the world’s biggest participant, who experienced produced it search so quick for so very long.

He refused to go quietly, standing business late in the 3rd set and conserving match point as Medvedev succumbed to the force of closing out his 1st Grand Slam title. He produced two double faults and an unappealing backhand into the net, and Djokovic rode the deafening cheers of the group to battle back again to within just a recreation.

It had taken so lengthy for the lovers to get powering him, an complete job genuinely, but now they have been there, and as Djokovic sat in his chair, he smiled at the throngs, teared up momentarily and pumped his fist, all the even though understanding how deep the gap he experienced dug for himself seriously was.

Maybe one particular day that instant will serve as good consolation for not successful the Grand Slam. He would afterwards say that all those rousing cheers intended as significantly as a 21st Grand Slam title. There are even worse items.

Back on the court docket, Medvedev had his almost insurmountable direct, and he created confident not to squander his next opportunity to serve out the championship. He blasted a person last provide that Djokovic could not get again more than the internet, ending the most complicated of quests in a way that number of could have imagined.

There would be no Grand Slam, but there was really like, and Djokovic, who is at as soon as a sentimentalist, a warrior and a deep thinker with an impetuous streak that has frequently gotten him into trouble, understood that was not almost nothing.

“My heart is stuffed with pleasure, and I am the happiest guy alive simply because you fellas designed me sense that way on the court docket,” he stated just before increasing a plate instead of a trophy. “I by no means felt like this.”