Daniil Medvedev broke through for his first major title with a stunning defeat of Novak Djokovic in Sunday's US Open final – ending the world No.1's bid for the Grand Slam.
Medvedev played an exceptional match, powering to a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory at an Arthur Ashe Stadium packed full of sporting stars and celebrities in attendance to potentially witness Djokovic achieve tennis history.
Medvedev led 5-2 in the third set and missed one championship point, but held off a late-surging Djokovic, who was supported by a crowd in full voice, to convert his third.
It marked the Russian’s first Grand Slam title after two previous losses in major finals, and his first win over Djokovic at a major tournament in three attempts.
Djokovic, the reigning Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion, was 27-0 in Grand Slam play in 2021 and was one win away from becoming the first man since Rod Laver 52 years earlier to sweep all four major titles in a single season.
Simply stunning Daniil Medvedev, you stopped one of the greatest tonight. To win your first Grand Slam title is always special, to do it against a champion like Novak Djokovic is something else. Take heart Novak, the quest continues. Best wishes, ?— Rod Laver (@rodlaver) September 12, 2021
"Congratulations to Daniil. Amazing match, Amazing tournament. If there is anyone who deserves the Grand Slam title right now, it's you. So well done," said an emotional Djokovic, who appeared inhibited throughout the match and finished it with 38 unforced errors.
"Even though I have not won the match, my heart is filled with joy and I'm the happiest man alive because you guys (the crowd) made me feel very special on the court. I've never felt like this in New York."
He remains equal with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 major singles titles.
"I want to say sorry, for you fans, and Novak, because we all know what he was going for today, and I just want to say ... for me you are the greatest tennis player in the history," said Medvedev, who dropped just one set during his fortnight at Flushing Meadows.
"I want to thank my team. Thank you guys, because it's not an easy journey to win a Slam, but I'm really thankful to you for helping me throughout this journey."
How the final unfolded
The tone was set when Djokovic dropped serve in the very first game after leading 15-40.
Medvedev consolidated for a 2-0 lead, at the damage was already done in the first set.
Djokovic couldn’t catch the Russian, who found himself in a beautiful serving groove, striking eight aces and winning all 15 of his first-serve points.
Medvedev committed just seven unforced errors and he took the set in 37 minutes.
In his three Grand Slam finals to date, this was the first time Medvedev had won the first set – and the first time Djokovic had lost the opener in a hard-court major final since 2013.
But Djokovic had little reason to panic, given this was the fifth match in a row this fortnight he had dropped the first set.
And he appeared quickly back on track when he went ahead 0-40 on Medvedev’s serve in the second game of the second set. Except he failed to put away a poorly-executed Medvedev drop shot on the next point, and the Russian went on to hold for 1-1.
Two games later, Djokovic earned two more break points, but could not convert them, either.
His frustration boiled over after the next point when he destroyed his racquet.
And in the following game, Medvedev broke the world No.1 to take a commanding position.
An increasingly-confident Medvedev fired consecutive forehand winners to lead 5-3 and two games later secured the second set when Djokovic again failed to punish a drop shot with too much air under it.
Djokovic surrendered his serve in the opening game of the third set from 30-0 up, and as his error tally mounted, Medvedev stormed to a 5-1 lead.
Serving for the title, Medvedev wobbled briefly, double faulting twice when he reached championship point as the crowd did its best to lift the Serbian star.
Djokovic closed the gap to 4-5, but Medvedev stayed composed amid the din to close out a stunning win on his third match point.
Stat of the day
With Medvedev joining Emma Raducanu as a fellow first-time major champion at this year’s US Open, it is the first time in 17 years we have seen maiden Slam winners on the both men’s and women’s sides at the same event.
The previous time it occurred was at Roland Garros in 2004, when Gaston Gaudio and Anastasia Myskina broke through.
This is the first time it has happened at the US Open in 31 years; in 1990 the first-time winners were Pete Sampras and Gabriela Sabatini.
Tweets of the day
As Djokovic chased history and Medvedev ultimately thwarted him, the tennis world was captivated.
Incredibly happy for Medvedev! But so devo for Djokovic wow.— Daria Gavrilova (@Daria_gav) September 12, 2021
Flawless match strategy by Medvedev. He deserved the win today. We still need to acknowledge how phenomenal Novak was this year (and for 15 yesrs) Was fun to watch. Congrats to both!!— andyroddick (@andyroddick) September 12, 2021
He was 1 MATCH AWAY from insane history!!! ???— Genie Bouchard (@geniebouchard) September 12, 2021
??? 5 sets, anyone?? https://t.co/cCuPDfw9TF— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) September 12, 2021
Sport is wonderful sometimes... https://t.co/x2gROTPatb— Boris Becker (@TheBorisBecker) September 13, 2021