Medvedev avoided becoming the sixth men’s player to lose his first three Grand Slam finals
Russian Daniil Medvedev won his first Grand Slam title by crushing Novak Djokovic’s hopes of completing a calendar sweep of the majors in a one-sided US Open final.
Second seed Medvedev, 25, lost his two previous Grand Slam finals but was composed by a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory.
The world number one Djokovic had already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles this year.
The 34-year-old Serb also chased a record in the 21st Grand Slam men’s title.
The win would have set him apart from rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the battle for most of the men’s majors, but it was the potential calendar Grand Slam that Djokovic said was the “greatest achievement” of his career.
Perhaps burdened by the weight of the story, Djokovic looked consistently subdued as he made many uncharacteristic mistakes and also burst into tears towards the end.
He also looked way beyond his usual physical capabilities.
To call these factors the sole reason for Medvedev’s success would be completely wrong.
The Russian played smart and confidently, pulled his opponent’s mistakes with strong serves and ended with precise winners when he avenged a defeat against Djokovic in the Australian Open final in February.
There was a slight wobble as he tried to fight for the title – three double faults helped Djokovic pause to make it 5-3 – before Medvedev gathered himself to take his third World Cup point.
After giving Djokovic a warm hug on the net, Medvedev broke into a big smile before leaning back in his chair to think about finally winning the first Grand Slam title he had long threatened.
“I want to thank my team, those who are here and watch. My parents, my family, my sisters. Some of my friends are here too,” said Medvedev, who lost just one set in the tournament.
“Thanks guys because winning a slam is not an easy journey. I am really grateful to you for helping me through this journey.”
Djokovic turned to Medvedev and said: “If there is anyone who deserves a Grand Slam title, it is you. Well done. There will be many more titles to come, I’m sure.”
After Dominic Thiem’s victory in New York last year, Daniil Medvedev is only the second first-time men’s Grand Slam champion since 2014
Third time lucky for Medvedev
Two years ago, Medvedev cut an emotional figure after the final in the men’s singles in New York.
It was the Russian’s first Grand Slam final, and after an exciting two-set race to catch up, he finally lost an epic fiver against Nadal.
Fascinated by a video montage on Ashe’s television screens showing all of Nadal’s achievements – at the time he had 19 Grand Slam titles – the Russian later said he wanted to use this as further inspiration for his own search for the sport’s greatest prizes .
He finally succeeded.
In Melbourne, Medvedev was overwhelmed by intense pressure from Djokovic on his second attempt and his game collapsed.
This time it was a complete role reversal.
Medvedev broke out in the first game of the game and while Djokovic settled into his service games for the rest of the set, the problem was that he couldn’t influence the Russian’s serve.
Shooting them down with speed and precision meant that even the best returner in the men’s game had no answers.
Afterward, Medvedev revealed that his celebration – falling into the crowd and sticking your tongue out – was inspired by the soccer video game Fifa. “Only legends will understand what I did, there was L2 + left,” he said
Medvedev only allowed Djokovic to gain three receiving points in the opening set and gained 100% of his first serve points while Djokovic only got 27% of his returns.
Djokovic had lost the first set in his last four games – including victories over the German fourth-placed Alexander Zverev and the Italian in sixth seeded Matteo Berrettini – and had five break chances at the beginning of the second set.
But he was unable to convert either of them when Medvedev rallied to hold both times, and Djokovic slapped his thighs in anger.
The Russian broke 3-2 – enough to win the second set – and then took a 4-0 lead in the third before taking the win after his brief wobble.
“I’ve never felt like this in New York” – Djokovic overwhelmed by emotions
While Djokovic will have a hard time losing the opportunity to make further history, the rousing reception he received from a New York audience with whom he did not always have the warmest relationships was some comfort.
Arthur Ashe Stadium has been a hostile venue for Djokovic over the years, especially in the 2015 final against Federer when fans cheered the Serbs’ failures.
Afterward, Djokovic said it was a relief when the game was over because of all the mental and emotional strain the Grand Slam calendar had placed on him
From the beginning of the final against Medvedev until he left the pitch, there was great support for the Serbian 20-time Grand Slam winner.
After a comfortable 5-4 stop in the third set, the audience roared further support for Djokovic and it caused him to get emotional in his chair.
At first he laughed and then his heart beat as the noise got louder. That resulted in an overwhelmed Djokovic crying behind his towel in his chair and still bursting into tears as he stood behind the baseline at the start of the next game.
Then he said to the crowd, as he also surged: “Even if I didn’t win the match, I’m the happiest man in the world because you made me special on the pitch.
“You touched my soul. I’ve never felt like this in New York. Thank you for your support. I love you.”
BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller
Novak Djokovic said earlier in the fortnight that he now has a better idea of how Serena Williams felt when she missed two games behind the Grand Slam in 2015.
The emotional demands of the challenge, the tiredness from previous rounds and months, and the greatness of Daniil Medvedev ultimately turned out to be too much.
But there was consolation in defeat – when the New Yorkers belatedly crowed the Serbs into their hearts.
Although Medvedev lost two championship points with double faults, he had hardly any problems the whole week.
He has won more hard court games and titles in recent years than any other ATP player, but this will be the most significant.