Novak Djokovic intends to play this match as if it were the end of his career, and he intends to try to do all the ounces of his mind and soul that he never thought possible. I said there is.
That wasn’t enough.
Daniil Medvedev confuses Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the US Open final on Sunday with an amazing indication of power and creativity, bidding for Djokovic to win everything for the first time in 52 years. Finished. Four Grand Slam tournaments in the calendar year. It was the final twist of a tournament full of great performance.
For at least another year, Rod Laver has been the only member of the finest clubs in modern men’s tennis, and the 2021 US Open belongs primarily to the 18-year-old British woman Emmaradukanu. The 150th-ranked Grand Slam champion in the most unlikely tennis story of all of them.
This was Djokovic’s moment and was officially considered the day when he would eventually soar over Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to become the greatest player ever.
Instead, what spirit pulls the laces on this unique and frustrating sport intervened in the form of a 25-year-old Russian. At cafes, grocery stores, and local tennis clubs where both are training.
Medvedev started fast, defeating Djokovic’s serve in the first game of the game, giving Djokovic little chance of taking the first set. That shouldn’t have been a problem. Djokovic, 34, was upset early in the game for two weeks, but then went up the level and won again and again. Sure, he’ll flip the script over again.
And there are three breakpoints in Medvedev’s first service game, and when Medvedev serves 1-2 in the second set, the sound system malfunctions and one of Medvedev’s serves is interrupted, a new save for Medvedev. I was given a chance. game.
When Medvedev scored that point and then another, the weight finally broke the man who seemed unbreakable. Djokovic dismantled his racket with a fierce slap on the court, which has won many championships so far.
One match later, Medvedev wrapped his backhand around Djokovic’s toes as he charged the net. When Djokovic’s volley was floating for a long time, he had a few more chances to kill his dream, one game away.
“He wanted a huge history,” Medvedev said. “It definitely sweetens it because I know I managed to stop him.”
Djokovic recently defeated Medvedev in his ninth title fight at the Australian Open in February. This seems to be a lifetime, and no one was talking about winning a Grand Slam.
Still, when the US Open draw was held two weeks ago, it seemed daunting to Djokovic. In the quarter-finals, the big Italian, Matteo Berrettini, was approaching. The talented German Alexander Zverev, who knocked off Djokovic at the Olympics and was the hottest player in the world at the start of the tournament, could have been his semi-final enemy. And if Djokovic can overcome these players, he will most likely meet Medvedev, the second best player in the world. He was the last obstacle Djokovic deserved to find the biggest award for their sport.
Medvedev is 6 feet 6 inches tall and is as thin as a bamboo stick. At first glance, he doesn’t seem to think of any professional athlete. He runs around the court, making shots that most people can’t see coming, then bombing the ace or hitting a flat backhand under the line.
Once in the tournament, the only way to defeat Djokovic is to take the racket out of hand with so many irreversible balls that one of the sport’s greatest defenders can’t survive the onslaught. There was a common sense.
Medvedev did more than that, pushing Djokovic back to his heels and handcuffing him online at some point that would determine every tennis match.
For Djokovic, this defeat resulted in a disappointment that no one but Serena Williams could understand. She was the last player to take part in the last major championship of the year on a Grand Slam shot. She also fell to the weak, Roberta Vinci of Italy, on the same court at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the 2015 semifinals.
On a personal level, this loss is most likely to have stabbed Djokovic in a way that Williams might never have felt. Djokovic spent most of his adulthood chasing the legend that claimed the sport to be theirs, just a few years before he entered the scene. He proved early on that he could be comparable to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, and then returned slack, but returned stronger and repeated cycle times many times.
He took part in the 20 most career Grand Slam title races in this tournament, which was tied to Federer and Rafael Nadal. He longs for the record to seal his legacy as the greatest player in tennis history.
Djokovic’s compatriots from Serbia worship him, but he was hardly loved elsewhere until Sunday. Djokovic spends more time being ranked number one in the world than Nadal and Federer and is the only one to have a record of victory over these two major rivals. Still, nothing declares him to be the greatest of winning four Grand Slam tournaments in a year.
Federer and Nadal have never been close, and probably never. This year, Djokovic defeated Nadal in his kingdom of Paris and won the title of the 13th French Open. Djokovic then won his sixth Wimbledon in July on a lawn that Federer had long treated like a vestibular lawn.
He was the fourth gem of the so-called Golden Slam, accomplished only by Steffi Graf, and failed to win the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo this summer.
Djokovic absorbed the aspirations of fellow athletes in the Olympic Village, but lost to Zverev in the semifinals and to Pablo Carreño Busta in the bronze medal match. The heat and weight of the journey was beginning to come at the expense of them.
Djokovic took a break from the competition for almost a month and then came to New York to finish his mission to get things right. A year ago, after losing the first set of the fourth round of the US Open, he hit the ball with anger, not worrying about where the ball was heading. It soared towards the line judge’s throat and had to be automatically disqualified.
Djokovic’s first six games at the 2021 US Open followed most familiar patterns. Before Djokovic’s assassin took care of the business, there was early confusion, including a defeat in the first set of four games in a row.
In the semi-finals it took 5 sets against Zverev. When it was over and there was only one match left, Djokovic embraced the size of the moment in front of him with his heart and soul, and everything else he had. Sure, that’s enough.
Tennis, however, can sometimes be very difficult, even for the greatest players in the world who have shown it so easily for a long time.
As Medvedev succumbed to the pressure to conclude his first Grand Slam title, he refused to go quietly and stood firmly in the second half of the third set, saving match points. He created two double faults and an ugly backhand on the net, and Djokovic returned to the game with a deafening cheer.
It took the fans a very long time to stand behind him, really the whole career, but now they were there, and when Djokovic sat in his chair, he smiled at the crowd and momentarily Shed tears and pumped his fist, how deep was the hole he dug for himself?
Maybe one day, that moment will serve as a decent comfort for not winning the Grand Slam. He would later say that those exciting cheers are as meaningful as the 21st Grand Slam title. There is something worse.
Returning to the court, Medvedev had an almost insurmountable lead to avoid wasting his second chance to compete in the championship. He blew up the last serve that Djokovic couldn’t get the net back on, ending the most difficult quest in a way that was almost unimaginable.
There was no grand slam, but there was love. And Djokovic, a sentimentalist, warrior, and deep thinker with impulsive lines who often plagued him, knew it was nothing.
“My heart is full of joy. I’m the happiest man in life because you made me feel that way on the court,” he said just before raising the plate instead of the trophy. Said to. “I have never felt this way.”