(sda) For a good two hours, a big final for the world number one had seldom worked out for the world number one, at the last change of sides it broke out of the Serb sitting on the bench and he howled bitterly into his towel.
A hit in the net a few minutes later finally ended all dreams of the Grand Slam in one calendar year. He had already won Melbourne, Wimbledon and Paris in 2021, but he was denied complete triumph with another success in New York. The 34-year-old Serb lost 4: 6, 4: 6, 4: 6 to the Russian Daniil Medvedev on Sunday (local time). The only loss at a Grand Slam tournament that year was bitter and unexpectedly evident.
When Djokovic grabbed the microphone, his eyes were still wet, possibly again – the 34-year-old was so concerned about the circumstances. “My heart is filled with joy and I am the happiest man alive because you made me feel special,” Djokovic told the crowd. “You touched my soul. I’ve never felt this way in New York. Thank you very much. I love you and I’ll see you again soon.”
“Sorry Novak and fans. We all knew what he was trying to achieve today,” said Medvedev in his speech at the awards ceremony for his first Grand Slam success and then spoke directly to his defeated opponent. “I’ve never said that to anyone, but I’m saying it to you now: For me, you are the greatest tennis player in history.” Rod Laver, who won all Grand Slam tournaments in 1969, remains the last man to do so.
As in the previous rounds, Djokovic lost the first set – but that he had to give up his first service game to Medvedev was unusual. After only 36 minutes he was 0-1 back against an opponent who had everything under control. Even three breakballs for Djokovic and the unabashed cheering for the Serbian spectators at the beginning of the second round did not disturb the 25-year-old. He made it 1: 1 out of 0:40. Djokovic repeatedly quarreled visibly and did not seem as confident mentally as, for example, in the semi-final victory against Alexander Zverev.
When Medvedev was given another first serve, because music suddenly played over the stadium speakers in the middle of the rally and the referee interrupted, Djokovic was upset. When he didn’t use his second break chance shortly afterwards, the world number one destroyed his racket in frustration after a good hour of play. It got even worse: Medvedev grabbed the next break to 3: 2 less than ten minutes later and hopped euphorically towards the bank.
Whatever Djokovic did, the 1.98 meter tall Medvedev was nimble enough and good enough to answer in too many situations. After 90 minutes he had won the second set.
Djokovic, on the other hand, was far from his best form and gave his first two service games in the third set. Tight situations, otherwise his strength, almost always worked out in Medvedev’s favor. In addition, points were given away in situations in which a Novak Djokovic does not give away any points on a normal day. After Djokovic’s shirt change, Medvedev missed his first match point, but a few minutes later he sank to the ground – as the winner.