Sport Tennis Djokovic melts down as Medvedev triumphs at US Open
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Djokovic melts down as Medvedev triumphs at US Open

daniil medvedev us open
Daniil Medvedev has won the US Open with a straight-sets win over Novak Djokovic in New York. Photo: Getty
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A game from the end of his bid for what would have been the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s tennis since 1969, Novak Djokovic covered his face with a towel, hiding his tears during a changeover.

For 27 grand slam matches in 2021, on hardcourts, clay courts and grass, Djokovic could not be deterred, could not be beaten.

Needing one more victory, in the US Open final on Monday (Australian time) against Daniil Medvedev, to complete a season sweep of major titles and to claim the record 21st of his career, Djokovic could not come through.

Outplayed by someone using a similar style to his own, Djokovic came up just short of those two historic milestones, losing 6-4 6-4 6-4 to first-time major champion Medvedev in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“First of all, I want to say ‘sorry’ for you fans and Novak, because, I mean, we all know what he was going for today,” said Medevev, a 25-year-old from Russia who lost Djokovic in this year’s Australian Open final and to Rafael Nadal in the 2019 US Open final.

Then, turning toward Djokovic, Medvedev offered praise for “what you accomplished this year and throughout your career” and then added: “I never said this to anybody, but I’ll say it right now. For me, you are the greatest tennis player in history.”

Top-ranked Djokovic had been sublime at the sport’s most important tournaments in 2021 – he won the Australian Open final in February, the French Open in June and Wimbledon in July, allowing him to pull even with Nadal and Roger Federer at 20 majors, and rolling to the final at Flushing Meadows.

But the 34-year-old Serbian, simply was far from his best on this particular day making 38 unforced errors and only converting one break point when it was all but over.

“I know I could have, and should have, done better,” he said.

Djokovic showed frustration, too, destroying his racquet by pounding it three times against the court after one point, drawing boos from the crowd of 25,703 and a code violation from the chair umpire.

A lot of Djokovic’s issues had to do with world No.2 Medvedev, who was imperious on his serve and with his groundstrokes.

He finished with 16 aces and 38 winners in all.

After overcoming multiple double-faults on match point, Medvedev finally finished the job, then toppled over to the court on his side.

“If there is anyone that deserves a grand slam title right now, it’s you,” Djokovic told Medvedev during the trophy ceremony.

The last man to complete a true Grand Slam remains Australian great Rod Laver, who did it twice – in 1962 and 1969. He was in the stands on Monday.

The last woman to accomplish the feat was Steffi Graf in 1988.

Instead, Djokovic joins Jack Crawford in 1933 and Lew Hoad in 1956 as men who won a year’s first trio of major tournaments and made it all the way to the US Open final before losing.

This was the fifth consecutive match in which Djokovic dropped the first set – and 11th in grand slam play this year. Unlike in the other instances, he could not come back.

Medvedev, who lost only one set in the entire tournament, didn’t allow it.

Thousands in the audience tried to boost Djokovic by chanting his nickname, “No-le! No-le! No-le!” but Medvedev proved simply a cut above.

“I would like to say that tonight, even though I have not won the match, my heart is filled with joy and I’m the happiest man alive, because you guys made me feel very special. You guys touched my soul,” Djokovic told the packed house during the trophy ceremony, pausing between words while sniffling.

“I’ve never felt like this in New York, honestly. I’ve never felt like this. I love you guys.

“Thank you so much for your support. I love you and I’ll see you soon.”

Medvedev’s victory marked the first time a Russian man had claimed a grand slam title since Marat Safin triumphed at the Australian Open in 2005.

-AAP