A recreation from the top of his bid for what would have been the primary calendar-year Grand Slam in males’s tennis since 1969, Novak Djokovic lined his face with a towel, hiding his tears throughout a changeover.
For 27 Grand Slam matches in 2021, on laborious courts, clay courts and grass, Djokovic couldn’t be deterred, couldn’t be crushed. Needing yet one more victory, within the U.S. Open remaining Sunday towards Daniil Medvedev, to full a season sweep of main titles and to declare the file twenty first of his profession, Djokovic couldn’t come by way of.
Outplayed by somebody utilizing the same fashion to his personal, Djokovic got here up simply in need of these two historic milestones, shedding 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to first-time main champion Medvedev at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“First of all, I would like to say ‘sorry’ for you followers and Novak, as a result of, I imply, everyone knows what he was going for right this moment,” stated Medevev, a 25-year-old from Russia who misplaced Djokovic on this 12 months’s Australian Open remaining and to Rafael Nadal within the 2019 U.S. Open remaining.
Then, turning towards Djokovic, Medvedev supplied reward for “what you completed this 12 months and all through your profession” and added: “I by no means stated this to anyone, however I’ll say it proper now. For me, you’re the best tennis participant in historical past.”
The No. 1-ranked Djokovic had been elegant on the sport’s 4 most essential tournaments, enduring the burdens of expectations and strain over the previous seven months and, in New York, the previous two weeks.
He gained the Australian Open remaining in February, the French Open in June and Wimbledon in July, permitting him to pull even with Nadal and Roger Federer at 20 Grand Slam titles.
But Djokovic, a 34-year-old from Serbia, merely was removed from his greatest on this specific day.
“I do know I might have, and will have, executed higher,” he stated.
Djokovic made errors, 38 unforced errors in all. He wasn’t ready to convert a break likelihood till it was too little, too late, going simply 1 for six. He confirmed frustration, too, destroying his racket by pounding it 3 times towards the courtroom after one level, drawing boos from the group of 25,703 and a code violation from chair umpire Damien Dumusois.
Lots of Djokovic’s points had to do with the No. 2-ranked Medvedev, who used his 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) body to chase down all the things and reply with seemingly easy groundstrokes — a lot the best way Djokovic wears down foes — and delivered pinpoint serving. Medvedev gained 20 of his first 23 service factors, establishing a sample.
He completed with 16 aces and 38 winners in all, 11 greater than Djokovic. After overcoming a number of double-faults on match level, Medvedev lastly completed the job, then toppled over to the courtroom on his aspect.
“If there’s anybody that deserves a Grand Slam title proper now, it’s you,” Djokovic instructed Medvedev throughout the trophy ceremony. “So properly executed.”
The final man to full a real Grand Slam by going 4 for 4 on the majors in a single season stays Rod Laver, who did it twice — in 1962 and 1969 — and was within the stands Sunday. The final lady to accomplish the feat was Steffi Graf in 1988.
Instead, Djokovic joins Jack Crawford in 1933 and Lew Hoad in 1956 as males who gained a 12 months’s first trio of Grand Slam tournaments and made all of it the best way to the U.S. Open remaining earlier than shedding.
After a five-set win over Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Alexander Zverev within the semifinals Friday night time, Djokovic seemed forward to what awaited within the remaining and declared, “I’m going to put my coronary heart and my soul and my physique and my head into that one. I’m going to deal with the subsequent match like it’s the final match of my profession.”
But he got here out a bit chilly Sunday, double-faulting in every of his preliminary two service video games and mixing in sufficient groundstroke miscues — bowing his head or rolling his eyes after some — that 12 minutes in, Medvedev was a degree from a second break and a 3-0 lead. Djokovic finally used a few aces at 117 mph and 124 mph to maintain there, but it surely was Medvedev who stole the present within the early going.
This was the fifth consecutive match during which Djokovic dropped the primary set — and eleventh in Grand Slam play this 12 months. Unlike within the different cases, he couldn’t come again.
Medvedev, who misplaced just one set in your entire event, did not enable it.
Djokovic bought to love-40 in Medvedev’s first service recreation of the second set however didn’t come by way of on any of these break factors. On the third, Djokovic put a sliced backhand within the internet, then pounded his racket towards his left thigh — one, two, three, 4 occasions, maybe as dissatisfied in his footwork as something.
Thousands within the viewers tried to increase him by chanting his nickname, “No-le! No-le! No-le!” After a few of Medvedev’s faults, some within the stands would applaud, thought of poor kind in tennis and repeatedly admonished with a “please” from Dumusois.
“I would love to say that tonight, regardless that I’ve not gained the match, my coronary heart is full of pleasure and I’m the happiest man alive, since you guys made me really feel very particular. You guys touched my soul,” Djokovic instructed the packed home throughout the trophy ceremony, pausing between phrases whereas sniffling. “I’ve by no means felt like this in New York, truthfully. I’ve by no means felt like this. I like you guys. Thank you a lot on your help. I like you and I’ll see you quickly.”