Novak Djokovic was denied the calendar Grand Slam as Daniil Medvedev beat him 6-4 6-4 6-4 to win the US Open. The world No 1 was the favourite to win a record 21st Major title at Flushing Meadows but didn’t look like himself in the final. Djokovic could be seen sobbing with a towel over his head at the conclusion of the match, and fought back more tears during the trophy ceremony, later revealing what made him cry.
Novak Djokovic sums up mood after missing out on historic record
Medvedev needed just two hours and 15 minutes to win a maiden Grand Slam title, as he dispatched Djokovic 6-4 6-4 6-4.
The world No 2 was playing in his third Major final, with the first coming at Flushing Meadows back in 2019 as he fought from two sets down to force a decider, before losing to Rafael Nadal in the decider.
He also faced the Serb in the Australian Open final at the beginning of this year, but it was the world No 1 who secured a routine 7-5 6-2 6-2 victory to lift his then 18th Grand Slam trophy.
History was well and truly on the line for the top seed in New York, who was looking to become the first man in 52 years to win all four Slams in a single year.
A title at the US Open would have also marked Djokovic’s 21st Grand Slam title, pulling him ahead of long-time rivals Roger Federer and Nadal to break the record for the most Majors won by a male player in history.
Instead, the Big Three all remained tied on 20, while Rod Laver is still the last man to achieve the Calendar Slam back in 1969.
Medvedev delivered a confident performance, looking miles ahead of the player he was in the Australian Open final just seven months ago, and dominated Djokovic in the longer rallies.
The 25-year-old showed no sign of nerves until he stepped up to serve for the title at 5-2 in the third set, hitting a flurry of double faults and blowing a championship point to give the top seed his first and only break of the match.
Medvedev winning US Open causes Federer, Nadal and Djokovic problems
As the crowd cheered Djokovic on, the 34-year-old could be seen crying at the final changeover before the Russian was able to quickly recover, steadying his nerves to close out the match when he served once again at 5-4, and dropping to the floor in a unique FIFA-inspired celebration.
The world No 1, who had sobbed under a towel while sat on his bench, continued to cry during the trophy ceremony, fighting back the tears as he congratulated Medvedev and thanked the crowd during his runner-up speech.
He later revealed the real reason he cried was nothing to do with failing to make history, but rather thanks to the overwhelming support he received inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion is notoriously lesser-loved than his rivals Federer and Nadal, and has even found himself being booed and heckled by crowds in the past, especially when facing one of his fellow Big Three members.
Medvedev leaves US Open crowd aghast with Federer, Nadal comment
“I felt something I never felt in my life here in New York,” Djokovic explained after the match.
During his on-court speech, the world No 1 told the crowd they had given him a feeling he never had before in his career, and continued to praise them following his defeat.
He continued: “The crowd made me very special. They pleasantly surprised me. I did not expect anything, but the amount of support and energy and love I got from the crowd was something that I’ll remember forever.
“That’s the reason on the changeover I just teared up. The emotion, the energy was so strong. It’s as strong as winning 21 Grand Slams. That’s how I felt, honestly. I felt very, very special. They touched my heart, honestly.”
“In the end of the day you want to win. You’re a professional athlete. These are the kind of moments that you cherish. These are connections that you establish with people that will be lasting for a very long time. It was just wonderful.”