Any grand slam title match will almost always have atmosphere and passion, but the men’s US Open final had both in spades.
Novak Djokovic’s hopes of an unprecedented calendar grand slam were crushed in straight sets by Daniil Medvedev in New York, the Serb overwhelmed with emotion in the closing moments.
During the third set, Djokovic sobbed into his towel, tears still in his eyes as he lined up on the baseline for the following game, surrounded by a boisterous Flushing Meadows crowd.
The adoration for the world No. 1 contrasted sharply with the reaction of Russian Medvedev, who was booed by the New York audience when he served for the championship point.
Medvedev Pushes Back Against Audience Boos
Jeers could be heard among the noise at Arthur Ashe Stadium when Medvedev served for his first major victory at 40-15 in the third set.
The 25-year-old then double-faulted, eliciting ecstatic cheers from the New York audience, but Medvedev quickly gathered himself to win the next point and clinch the championship.
When questioned about the political environment, Medvedev told CNN’s Carolyn Manno, “Wow, that was extraordinary.”
“As soon as we stepped onto the court, it was unlike any other match I’d played here before.” You got the feeling it was a special night, a special night, more for him and the audience cheering him on, and they tried all they could to get him on.
“I doubt they wanted to bother me on purpose, but you get the screaming before the second serve, you hit a double fault, and the whole crowd goes berserk — it’s really tough.”
“I know I have to concentrate on myself and how I can win this match, and I did it again, so that’s all that counts,” he said.
Medvedev, who is no stranger to playing the villain in New York, had a much different reaction to the booing at the US Open two years ago, when he was penalized for unsportsmanlike behaviour and a visual obscenity during his triumph over Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.
Medvedev waved his arms and told the audience, “I won because of you,” as he was booed during his post-match interview.
However, Medvedev revealed to CNN before this year’s tournament that he had learnt his “lessons” from the explosive 2019 experience, hinting to a more receptive attitude.
Sympathy On The Court
In the past, Djokovic has been the target of jeers at the site, but this time there was nothing but affection for the Serb.
Djokovic was the strong second favorite of the New York audience six years ago during his victory against Roger Federer, but he was cheered on throughout his chase of a record 21st grand slam against Medvedev.
At 5-4 in the third set, an emotional Djokovic cried into his towel as he sat in his chair, covering his face with his towel before returning to the baseline.
When asked what he said to Djokovic at the net after his win, Medvedev told CNN, “I said sorry to him.”
“Tennis is a harsh sport in which one of the two players will lose, regardless of whether it is the first round or the final.
“When I watch Novak, Rafa [Nadal], and Roger [Federer] play in these finals, I always get the impression that they are sad for their opponents because they know how they feel.
“I stopped Novak from achieving something insane and incredible in tennis history, and I pity him.”
“I’m pleased for myself, but I feel terrible for him,” Novak said, “and yeah, Novak is such a nice man that he just said I deserve everything and he hugged me, which is incredible.”
A Happy Victory
Despite the boos, Medvedev’s stunning triumph was a crowning achievement, made all the greater by the anguish of two previous grand slam final failures.
He was beaten in straight sets by Djokovic in the Australian Open final in February after reaching his maiden US Open final in an exciting five-set match against Rafael Nadal two years ago.
In New York, Medvedev admitted that he had reservations about his first victory.
He told news reporters, “It’s pure bliss.”
“Being in two finals and losing to fantastic guys like Rafa and Novak. When you go into a match like this, you always wonder if you’re strong enough to stop Novak from earning a calendar grand slam.
“I wasn’t playing my best, but he annihilated me in Australia; I didn’t feel well afterwards, and my confidence dropped a little.
“I’m simply glad that I was able to give it my all today. I won in straight sets against one of the greatest players of all time in a match that meant everything to him… it’s something unique.”