Russia’s winners Daniil Medvedev (R) and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic hold their trophies after the men’s final of the 2021 US Open tennis tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on March 12.
Hit by Betancur | AFP | Getty Images
Novak Djokovic’s hopes for a calendar grand slam and the 21st major came to an end after Daniil Medvedev put in an impressive performance to defeat the world number 1 in the US Open final.
Djokovic dreamed of becoming only the third man, after Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969), to sweep all four majors in the same year.
To increase the weight of the story on his shoulders, with the victory he would have left his great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal behind and would have been the first man to have ever won a 21st individual slam title.
But Medvedev put an end to his chances with a phenomenal performance to get lucky in a Grand Slam final for the third time. He won 6: 4, 6: 4, 6: 4 to deal at least the younger generation with a real blow against the old guard.
Medvedev said: “First of all I want to apologize to you fans and Novak because we all know what he was up to today and I just want to say what you have achieved this year and throughout your career – I never said that to anyone.” but I’ll tell you right away, for me you are the greatest tennis player in history.
“I want to thank my team. It is not an easy journey to win a slam, but I am really grateful to you for helping me throughout the journey.”
The Russian turned to the crowd and added, “Then I want to thank you guys. Today you may have been a little more for Novak, but that’s totally understandable. You gave me a lot of energy all week. It helped me today . It wasn’t easy, but thank you very much.
“Finally, I would like to end my speech on a very sweet note. Today is my third anniversary for me and my wife and during the tournament I couldn’t think of a present or anything like that. When I won, the only thing I thought was if I lose I don’t have time to find a gift so I have to win this game. I love you Dasha. “
Medvedev was beaten well by Djokovic in the Australian Open final in February, but he showed in the opening set that he wouldn’t make the same mistakes by setting up a clinic and only giving up three points on serve.
Djokovic dropped his opening game by 40-15 and was unable to touch Medvedev afterwards. The Russian never gave up his lead and became the fifth player in a row at the US Open to drop Djokovic’s first set.
Things did not go according to plan for the Serb, whose service and volley tactics did not worry Medvedev in the battle for the top two seeds.
Medvedev played in his third and second Grand Slam finals that year after losing to 34-year-old Djokovic at the Australian Open. He got into the match after losing just one set while putting on a show of brutal tennis along the way.
The rhythm just wasn’t in Djokovic’s legs and he seemed physically impaired, be it tension, fatigue, or a combination of both.
It wasn’t long before his frustration boiled over in game four of the second set. After failing to implement a few breakpoints, he repeatedly destroyed his club on the court and received a warning.
Medvedev used the moment with a break to 3: 2 and served the set to get closer to one of the first Grand Slam titles.
His aggressive game seemed way too much for Djokovic and he broke through the resistance of the top seed again, this time in the opening game of the third set.
Djokovic looked worn down when Medvedev sealed a second break in his serve to take a 3-0 lead. The Russian served for the title but collapsed at the finish to give the break back to the world number 1.
An emotional Djokovic covered his face with his towel and sobbed before he turned 10.
Medvedev made a double fault again on his second match point, but Djokovic scored on the third and Medvedev fell to the field to cheer and was the first man since Rafael Nadal in 2010 and the second since Ivan Lendl in 1987, who only had one on the way to the title Lost sentence in New York.
In tears, Djokovic, whose insatiable will to win was always accompanied by an extremely commendable kindness in case of defeat, said: “First of all, I would like to congratulate Daniil, great game, great tournament.
“If there is anyone who deserves a Grand Slam title now, you are so good at it.”
He turned to the crowd and added, “I’ve been thinking of both scenarios, imagining how I’m standing here in front of you and what I would say.
“I want to say tonight that even if I didn’t win the match and I’m the happiest man in the world, my heart is full of joy because you made me feel very special on the pitch.”