Daniil Medvedev lifted his first Grand Slam trophy on Monday after defeating Novak
Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, in the men’s singles final.
ending Djokovic’s bid to become the first man in 52 years to win all four Grand Slam
tournaments in a calendar year
It was one last twist in a tournament that overflowed with stunning performances.
For at least another year, Rod Laver will remain the lone member of the most
an exclusive club in modern men’s tennis and the 2021 U.S. Open will forever belong
primarily to an 18-year-old British woman named Emma Raducanu, who went from
being the 150th-ranked player to a Grand Slam champion in the most unlikely tennis
tale of them all.
This was supposed to be Djokovic’s moment, the day that he would finally surge past
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and officially become the greatest player of all time.
Instead, whatever spirits pull the strings of this uniquely exasperating sport
intervened in the form of a lanky 25-year-old Russian, a neighbor of Djokovic’s in
their adopted home of Monaco who is sure now to create any number of awkward
encounters at Monte Carlo’s cafes and grocery stores and at the local tennis club
where both of them train.
Medvedev started fast, breaking Djokovic’s serve in the first game of the match and
giving Djokovic a few chances to take the first set. That was not supposed to matter.
Djokovic, 34, had been shaky early in matches for two weeks, before raising his level
and storming back for the win after win. Surely, he would flip the script once more.
And he had the opening, three breakpoints on Medvedev’s first service game, and
then another with Medvedev serving at 1-2 in the second set, when the sound system
malfunctioned and interrupted one of Medvedev’s serves, giving him a fresh chance
to save the game.
When Medvedev took that point and then another, the weight of it all finally broke
the man who had seemed unbreakable. Djokovic dismantled his racket with a violent
smack on a court that had delivered him so many championships before.
A game later, Medvedev curled a backhand onto Djokovic’s toes as he charged to the
net, and when Djokovic’s volley floated long, the chance to crush a dream was just a
few more games and one set away.
“He was going for huge history,” Medvedev said. “Knowing that I managed to stop
him, it definitely makes it sweeter.”
Djokovic had beaten Medvedev most recently in a lopsided battle in February for his
ninth Australian Open title, a moment that seems a lifetime ago when no one was
talking about anyone winning a Grand Slam.