(September 12, 2021) FLUSHING MEADOWS, New York – No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev stopped Novak Djokovic’s bid for a calendar Grand Slam on Sunday when he stunned the top seed 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in Arthur Ashe Stadium. It’s the 25-year-old Russian’s first major title. He lost the US Open final to Rafael Nadal in 2019 in five sets and the 2021 Australian Open final to Djokovic in three sets.
Djokovic was going for a record-setting 21st major to pass both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, all with 20 major crowns. It was Medvedev’s 13th tournament win,
He becomes the third Russian man to win a major joining Yevgeny Kafelnikov at 1996 Roland Garros and 1999 Australian Open; Marat Safin at 2000 US Open and 2005 Australian Open.
Medvedev joined an exclusive club of two other men (Fred Perry and Ken Rosewall )who thwarted those from winning the Grand Slam, by winning the US Open.
Medvedev is now the ninth different US Open men’s singles champion of the last 14 years – including first-time Grand Slam champs Dominic Thiem (2020), Marin Cilic (2014), Andy Murray (2012) and Juan Martin del Potro (2009). During that same time, the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon have each been won by four different men. Djokovic is 7-2 in major finals against players seeking their first major title.
Medvedev broke Djokovic’s serve to open the match for 1-0. Djokovic had to recover from 15-40 to hold for 1-2. Medvedev served out the set 6-4. He was 15 for 15 on first serve points.
In the second set, Medvedev serving 1-2 break point and a second serve as Djokovic had a break point. Music came on the stadium loudspeaker and Medvedev received a first serve.
Djokovic loses the point on a volley and made a fake swing at the net but did not hit it. Djokovic later in the game when he failed to return a serve destroyed a racquet on the court.
Djokovic was given a warning by chair umpire Damien Dumusois. The next game Medvedev broke serve to go up 4-2 and held on to his advantage to close out the set 6-4.
Djokovic was trying to make his seventh comeback from two-sets to none down. He rallied from the position in the Roland Garros final to win it.
“It was different because my feeling on the court was not as good as the one that I had in Paris,” Djokovic explained. “Just energy-wise I felt slow.
“But there was a turning point in the beginning of the second I feel like. Some breakpoints there, opening service games of Medvedev in the second set. There was some Love-40. Just one shot here and there… I was very close.
“Who knows the trajectory of the match if you would make a break in the second early. With the crowd, with the support, probably I would feel maybe different.
“But he did so well. I mean, he was amazing. Just congratulate him, full credit from his mentality, his approach, his game, everything. He absolutely was the better player and deserved to win, no doubt about it.
“Of course I’m disappointed with the overall game that I performed today. I know I could have and should have done better. But it’s sport, you know. You win some, you lose some. It’s a tough loss, very tough loss. But at the same time I’m happy for him because he’s a nice guy and he deserves it. He really does.”
Medvedev kept the pressure on breaking the Djokovic serve to open the third set, breaking twice and building a 4-1 lead. Medvedev failed to serve out the match at 5-2 in the third set, but closed out the match at 6-4.
“Was he at his best? Maybe not today,” said Medvedev. “He had a lot of pressure. I had a lot of pressure, too, about the risk on the second serve, it was because of the confidence I had. I knew I cannot give him easy serves because that’s what he likes. So that was the plan. Because of the confidence in a lot of tight moments, I managed to do it well.”
“Of course, part of me is very sad,” Djokovic said during his news conference. “It’s a tough one to swallow, this loss, I mean, considering everything that was on the line.
“But on the other hand I felt something I never felt in my life here in New York. The crowd made me very special. They pleasantly surprised me. I did not know, I did not expect anything, but the amount of support and energy and love I got from the crowd was something that I’ll remember forever. I mean, that’s the reason on the changeover I just teared up. The emotion, the energy was so strong. I mean, it’s as strong as winning 21 Grand Slams. That’s how I felt, honestly. I felt very, very special.
“They touched my heart, honestly. Of course, in the end of the day you want to win. You’re a professional athlete. These are the kind of moments that you cherish. These are connections that you establish with people that will be lasting for a very long time.”
“I was just below par with my game, ” he added. “My legs were not there. I was trying. I did my best. Yeah, I made a lot of unforced errors. I didn’t have — no serve really.
“If you’re playing someone like Medvedev who hits his spots so well, just aces, gets a lot of free points on his first serve, you’re constantly feeling pressure on your service games.
“I was below par with everything, to be honest. So just one of these days where unfortunately, yeah, wasn’t meant to be.”
Djokovic admitted that he felt relived after the match while sitting courtside.
“Relief. 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. It was a lot to handle.
“I was just glad that finally the run is over. At the same time I felt sadness, disappointment, and also gratitude for the crowd and for that special moment that they’ve created for me on the court.”
“Everything that happens for the first time is special, ” said Medvedev. “When I won my first junior tournament, it meant a lot to me. When I won my first future, I was happy. I think when you repeat something, there is a little bit different emotions unless you make history.
“Why I say this is because now winning the Masters, I’m super happy, strong achievement. Not many player won a Masters in their career. But the only thing I was thinking after winning another Masters is I need more, I want to try to do more.
“You never know if you’re going to achieve it in your career. Again I was always saying, If I don’t, I just want to know that I did my best to do it.
“Now it’s a bit — I don’t know if (indiscernible) is a good word, but a lot of happiness. That’s my first Grand Slam. I don’t know how I’m going to feel if I win a second one or third one. That’s my first one, so I’m really happy. Means a lot to me.
“Again, after Masters, for example winning in Canada, I knew I had Cincinnati next to try to prepare well for US Open, so I couldn’t even celebrate in a way. I needed to get on the plane and get ready for my first round.
“Here I know I don’t have anything coming in soon future, so I know how to celebrate. Russians know how to celebrate (smiling). Hopefully I will not get in the news. If I get, it’s going to be in a good way. But I’m going to definitely celebrate the next few days.”
“I do feel sorry for Novak because I cannot imagine what he feels. I don’t know this feeling. It definitely makes it sweeter. I mean, a Grand Slam is a Grand Slam. I would win it against Botic in the final, probably I would be same happy.
“For the confidence and for my future career, knowing that I beat somebody who was 27-0 in a year in Grand Slams, I lost to him in Australia, he was going for huge history, and knowing that I managed to stop him it definitely makes it sweeter and brings me confidence for what is to come on hard courts so far, but let’s see about other surfaces.”
Medvedev talked about his unique victory celebration. “When I was running through Wimbledon, because that’s not the surface — I like grass, but I don’t feel as fluid as on hard courts. I was really confident about my game.
“I think it was like one night, you know, you cannot fall asleep. Five, ten minutes you have crazy thoughts, like every other person. I was like, Okay, if I’m going to win Wimbledon, imagine I win it against Novak or whatever. To not celebrate is going to be too boring, because I do it all the time. I need to do something, but I want to make it special.
“I like to play FIFA. I like to play PlayStation. It’s called the dead fish celebration. If you know your opponent when you play FIFA, many times you’re going to do this. You’re going to score a goal, you’re up 5-0, you do this one.
“Yeah, I talked to the guys in the locker, they’re young guys, super chill guys. They play FIFA. They were like, That’s legendary. Everybody who I saw who plays FIFA thinks that’s legendary. That’s how I wanted to make it.
“Again, it’s not because I want to be on the newspaper talking about FIFA celebration or whatever. I don’t care. But I wanted to make it special for people to love, for my friends to love who I play FIFA with. I knew I’m going to make it. I got hurt a little bit. It’s not easy to make it on hard courts. I got hurt a little bit, but I’m happy I made it legendary for myself.”
What’s ahead for the mew major champion for the rest of the year as he inches up in ranking points, can he pass Djokovic for No. 1?
“I have Paris and Nitto ATP Finals to defend. Novak, I don’t think he has much to defend. I think honestly it’s almost impossible.
“Yeah, I don’t know in the race if I am far behind Novak. If we talk about schedule, what can I change? There is Indian Wells, there is Paris Bercy, Turin, and Vienna. Vienna is in the week of St. Petersburg. I’m definitely not going to play it, because I probably won’t play St. Pete also. But again, in the week of St. Pete, which is a Russian tournament, I’m not going to play anything else.
“Let’s hope I win Indian Wells, Bercy and Turin. It’s a tough challenge. I’m just happy to win a major. I’m going to do my best in every tournament I’m playing. I’m going to see what I’m going to do with the schedule.
“That’s not my first goal in my mind to try to achieve it this year. If I manage to do it one day, it’s great.”