NOvak Djokovic sat on his bench surrounded by 25,703 spectators in the largest tennis stadium in the world and howled bitterly into his towel. At this point in time, he had not lost the US Open final against Daniil Medvedev, but the 34-year-old was able to make it 4-6, 4-6, 4-6 on Sunday (local time) in New before the last rally York and the end of his dreams about the so rare Grand Slam no longer.
The disappointment and sadness combined with the overwhelming encouragement from the ranks was too much. “The amount of support, energy and love I got from the audience is something I will remember forever,” said the Serb. That’s why he cried. “The emotions, the energy was so strong. I think that’s as strong as winning 21 Grand Slams. “
While still on the square, he said to the audience: “You have touched my soul. I’ve never felt like this in New York. Thank you very much. “
“I’m sorry for Novak”
Because that day in the 145 minutes in the Billie-Jean-King facility, so little worked out for him as probably never before in a grand finale, the world number one is unchanged with 20 wins and shares the record with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. He also missed the Grand Slam from victories in all four tournaments within one year – he was undefeated in 27 games in the majors of 2021. Then came the world number two Medvedev, immediately took the first serve from him, played the better tennis.
“I’m sorry for Novak, I can’t imagine how he’s feeling,” said the 25-year-old Russian, who won his first Grand Slam victory on his third wedding anniversary. In the victory speech on the court, he let himself be carried away to a unique confession: “I’ve never said that to anyone, but I’m saying it to you now: For me you are the greatest tennis player in history.”
Rod Laver, who won all Grand Slam tournaments in 1969 and was a guest in the stands, remains the last man to succeed in this coup. The last woman is Steffi Graf, who even managed the Golden Slam including Olympic gold in 1988.
Two days after the semi-final victory against Alexander Zverev, it quickly became clear that Djokovic had the expected strongest possible opponent in Medvedev. As in the previous rounds, he lost the first set – but it was unusual that he had to give up his first service game straight away. After just 36 minutes he was 0: 1 back in sets against an opponent who had everything under control. Even three breakballs for Djokovic and the audience cheering unabashedly for the Serb at the beginning of the second round did not disturb the 25-year-old.
Djokovic, on the other hand, was pissed off, frustrated and destroyed a bat in the second set. Whatever he did, the 1.98-meter tall Medvedev was nimble enough and good enough to respond in too many situations. After 90 minutes, Djokovic had also lost the second set. “I didn’t have any legs. I tried. My game just wasn’t there, ”said Djokovic from a distance and repeated his congratulations to Medvedev. “He was great. Mentality, approach, his game, everything. He was absolutely the better player and deserved to win. No doubt.”
After the Austrian Dominic Thiem a year ago, Medvedev is now the next of the next generation to win a Grand Slam tournament – and the first to do it against one of the big three Djokovic, Nadal and Federer.
To have won against this opponent in this situation on that day, that made the triumph even more special for the excellent-tempered Russian in his self-perception. “He was on his way to making history. Knowing that I stopped him makes it absolutely sweeter and at least gives me confidence for the hard court, ”said Medvedev. You have to wait and see on the other surfaces.
“Russians know how to party,” said Medvedev. “I hope I won’t be on the news. If it does, it will be a good way. I will definitely celebrate the coming days. “