Daniil Medvedev Wins U.S. Open, Spoiling Djokovic Calendar Grand Slam
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Arthur Ashe Stadium, No. 2 ranked Daniil Medvedev defeated tennis great Novak Djokovic in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to win the 2021 U.S. Open.
Medvedev’s victory spoiled what would have been the first calendar Grand Slam in men’s tennis since Rod Laver accomplished the feat for the second time in 1969. To rub salt into the wound, a Djokovic win would have made him the sole leader of the most Grand Slam titles in men’s tennis history, as he, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal currently share the record of 20.
Medvedev expressed nothing but respect for his fellow competitor. “I want to say sorry for you, the fans, and Novak because we all know what he was going for today,” he said. “What you accomplished this year and throughout your career, I never said this to anybody but I will say it right now, for me you are the greatest tennis player in the history.”
Medvedev was in control of the match from the get-go. He aced Djokovic 16 times, won four breakpoints, and won 58% of points on his second serve. He also benefited from a suboptimal performance from Djokovic, who uncharacteristically made 38 unforced errors.
“Every match was different just because [Djokovic’s] so good that every match is different,” Medvedev said. “He changes his tactics, he changes his approach. Was he at his best? Maybe not today. He had a lot of pressure.”
Whether this pressure caught up to Djokovic is a possibility, as his visible frustration hit a low point during the second set. The 34-year-old Serbian, who is widely considered to be the best returner in history, repeatedly smashed his racket after failing to return a powerful Medvedev serve.
— ESPN (@espn) September 12, 2021
The historical significance of what was on the line combined with the New York crowd’s outpouring of support weighed on Djokovic. After holding his serve to bring the score 5-4 in the final set, the crowd began chanting his nickname “Nole,” a special moment given Djokovic’s reputation in the tennis realm as both the superhero and supervillain of this era.
During his on-court interview, a teary-eyed Djokovic expressed his gratitude to the crowd, “Tonight, even though I did not win the match, my heart is filled with joy and I am the happiest man alive because you guys made me feel very special. You guys touch my soul. I’ve never felt like this in New York, honestly… Thank you so much for the support [and] everything you have done tonight for me.”
Despite the disappointing loss, Djokovic’s year is one marked by a remarkable 27 straight victories in major tournament play. And for the 25-year-old Medvedev, his Grand Slam title is just the tip of the iceberg for what’s next to come.
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