Russian world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev made history, winning his first major title with a stunning 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the US Open final, which prevented the Serb from completing the calendar Grand Slam on Monday (IST).

Djokovic, after winning the first three majors of the year, was trying to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors in one season and break a tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most major titles in history (20 each). But Russia’s 25-year-old Medvedev played patiently to become the third Russian man to earn Slam glory, joining Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin.

“You never know if you’re going to achieve [winning a major] in your career. I was always saying if I don’t, I just want to know that I did my best to do it,” Medvedev said.

“[I feel] a lot of happiness. That’s my first Grand Slam. I don’t know how I’m going to feel if I win a second one or third one. That’s my first one, so I’m really happy. Means a lot to me,” the Russian told atptour.com.

After his semifinal win against Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, Medvedev had promised to take the fight to Djokovic in the final. “No matter the score, I’m just going to turn up the heat,” he had said. And he delivered on Monday (IST).

Medvedev made his first major final two years ago at the US Open on the same court inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. On that occasion, the Russian suffered a five-set loss against Spain’s Rafael Nadal. But this time, Medvedev controlled the match from the first game and earned the biggest win of his career after two hours and 15 minutes.

“First of all I want to say sorry for you fans and Novak. We all know what he was going for today,” Medvedev said during the trophy ceremony. “I’ve never said this [to] anybody, but I will say it right now. For me, you are the greatest tennis player in history.”

The 25-year-old double-faulted on his first championship point at 5-2 in the third set and lost serve for the first time in the match later in the game. The crowd then egged Djokovic back into the match from there, and Medvedev double-faulted again on his next match point. But the 13-time tour-level winner, despite suffering from cramps, successfully served out the match the second time, falling to the court after Djokovic missed a backhand return into the net.

“It was definitely tough. [I] cannot say [it any] other way. I knew that the only thing I can do is focus,” Medvedev said. “[You] never know what would happen if it would be 5-all, if I would start to get crazy or whatever. It didn’t happen, so again we cannot talk about it. I knew I have to focus on myself, on what I had to do to win the match.”

From 28 major matches this year, Djokovic lost the first set 11 times, including in five consecutive matches from the third round at Flushing Meadows. But this time he was unable to conjure a comeback to complete his historic run. During the final changeover, the Serbian cried into his towel as the moment hit him.

“I would like to say that tonight, even though I have not won the match, my heart is filled with joy and I’m the happiest man alive because you guys made me feel very special,” Djokovic told the crowd. “You guys touched my soul. I’ve never felt like this in New York… I love you guys. Thank you so much for the support and everything you have done tonight for me. I love you and I’ll see you soon.”

Before the match began, large groups of Serbian fans stood outside of Arthur Ashe Stadium chanting “Nole! Nole, Nole, Nole! Nole! Nole!”

Medvedev lost just one set en route to his US Open title. The Russian leads all players on the ATP Tour since 2018 in hard-court titles (12), finals (17) and wins (147).

–IANS

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