Novak Djokovic denied calendar grand slam as Daniil Medvedev thrashes world No 1 in US Open final

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Daniil Medvedev celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic - Getty Images
Daniil Medvedev celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic - Getty Images

Novak Djokovic’s dream of the calendar grand slam came to grief as he finally lost to a member of the so-called NextGen. And yet, Djokovic’s demeanour and tennis were so uncharacteristic that it felt more like an aberration than that long-awaited “changing of the guard”.

Was Djokovic feeling the after-effects of playing five more sets than Daniil Medvedev on the way to this final? Was he hag-ridden by his own desperate desire to equal Rod Laver’s 1969 record of monopolising all four majors in a season?

The answer may lie somewhere in the middle, but Djokovic became tearful at the final change of ends before his 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 defeat reached its finish. He wept into his towel, even as the same New York fans who have so often scorned him tried to exhort him to raise his game.

While all this emotional drama was unfolding, Medvedev experienced a loss of nerve on his first attempt to serve the match out. He held a first match point at 5-2, 40-30 in the third set. Two double-faults and a horrid unforced error and he was suddenly receiving serve again.

A second match point came and went with another double-fault before Medvedev finally concluded this extraordinary tournament with one more unreturnable serve. He had struck 16 aces and suffered only a single break.

So it was that Medvedev opened his grand-slam account after his third final at this level. It was a different story to his capitulation against Djokovic in the Australian Open final, seven months ago.

This was not a top-class final, thanks mainly to Djokovic’s lack of engagement. At two sets down – the same situation he had found himself in against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final of Roland-Garros – one might have expected him to take one of those bathroom breaks that we have been talking about of late.

He did exactly that against Tsitsipas, remember, and reversed the momentum of the match. This time, though, there was a fatalism to Djokovic’s demeanour. His lassitude was so great that one had to assume that he had emptied his tank while beating Alexander Zverev in a five-set thriller on Friday night.

The one moment when Djokovic did fire up was in the middle of the second set, as he tried to fight back from an early break. He could not make his legs move as he wanted, and at one point he nearly thrashed a loose ball away wildly in frustration – only to hold himself back just before he risked a repeat of last year’s disqualification.

His self-restraint might have kicked in on that occasion, but a few moments later he laid into his racket with more enthusiasm than he showed for any of his shotmaking, thrashing it three times into the court surface. Rather than stabilising in the third set, Djokovic soon found himself 4-0 down as the crowd sat in stunned silence.

There are many tennis-lovers around the world who would have been praying for this result, as it leaves the overall grand-slam chart tied. Each member of the so-called “Big Three” still has 20 majors to their name, which is how fans of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will be praying for things to stay.

Djokovic is still the greatest player the game has seen, whatever happens next. But the accumulation of effort – both mental and physical – over this long season looked to have left him as an empty vessel. He has been driving himself on to this moment for so long, sailing against the headwinds of fan apathy in many stadiums around the world. On Sunday night, something seemed to break inside him.

After sealing the win, Medvedev gave a peculiar little sideways hop and lay down on his left side with his tongue hanging out. He later revealed that this bizarre display had been inspired by a celebration used in the Fifa video game. That’s what you get when the kids start taking over.

Medvedev wins maiden grand slam - as it happened

11:02 PM

Respect

11:01 PM

Medvedev explains his drop to the floor celebration

"It was 'L2 + Left" - which is said to be the Fifa brick fall goal celebration??? Still confused, or is that just me?

10:54 PM

Medvedev speaks

"Sorry for you the fans and Novak. We all know what he was trying to achieve For me, you (Djokovic) are the greatest tennis player in history. "

He then mentions his win falls on his third wedding anniversary:

"During the tournament, I couldn't think of a present or anything . When I made the final, I thought, if I lose I need to find a present fast. I have no time to find a present, I have to win this match."

10:52 PM

Djokovic feels the love

The crowd getting behind Djokovic during the trophy presentation as the world No 1 tries to digest what's just happened this evening. He looks around the stands, his eyes welling up. The spectators take to their feet as he prepares to speak.

"Congratulations Daniil, amazing match, amazing tournament. If there is anyone who deserves a grand slam title right now, it's you. You are one of the greatest guys on the tour. I wish you many more majors to follow.

"I was thinking in both scenarios, visualising myself standing here in front of you guys, wondering what I would say. 'I would like to say 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."

10:44 PM

The Big Three locked on 20 majors apiece

So, it wasn't to be for Djokovic who will end the season locked on 20 grand slams alongside Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Not a bad way to set up the 2022 season. Bring on the Aussie Open!

10:43 PM

Clinical

10:37 PM

That drop to the floor in disbelief celebration

More details to follow on this I'm sure:

10:35 PM

Djokovic* 4-6, 4-6, 4-6 Medvedev

Djokovic crying now as he prepares to receive serve, the emotion finally coming out. Medvedev gets a first point on the board, and then is grateful to see Djokovic loop a forehand into the middle after another gruelling rally for 30-0.

Medvedev pushes long with a forehand and the crowd continue to make plenty of noise as he prepares to send down another serve. Great response from the Russian, he punches a forehand down the middle to bring up two championship points.

But the No 2 seed is really feeling it out there, another double hands Djokovic a free point, but when the Serbian nets the next service return, he finally is over the line. He throws him self to the court in almost a comical fashion. He's denied Djokovic of the calendar grand slam, and a 21st major. GAME, SET AND MATCH: MEDVEDEV WINS MAIDEN MAJOR WITH 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 WIN OVER DJOKOVIC

10:28 PM

Djokovic 4-6, 4-6, 4-5 Medvedev* (*denotes next server)

The crowd willing on Djokovic now, desperate to see the world No 1 attempt to try and mount what would be an almighty fightback. A blistering forehand winner lifts the spectators from their seats and moves Djokovic 30-15 in front. Medvedev flashes a forehand into the tramlines and then sends a service return wide. Surely not? Djokovic retreats to his chair beaming from ear to ear. He's loving all the love for him.

Maria Sharapova joins the stars on Arthur Ashe - Getty Images
Maria Sharapova joins the stars on Arthur Ashe - Getty Images

10:24 PM

Djokovic* 4-6, 4-6, 3-5 Medvedev (*denotes next server)

Medvedev is a hurry (as usual) to get a service game done and dusted. It just so happens to be the one that could secure him a maiden major.

A double fault allows Djokovic of a 15-30 lead, but the Russian gets level and then watches a forehand from the Serbian fly long. It brings up his first championship point. Medvedev is kept waiting as a few fans start chirping up, possibly trying to distract his rhythm. It works as another double fault brings Djokovic back to deuce. It's back-to-back doubles from the No 2 seed, and a huge roar rings round Arthur Ashe. And wait, Medvedev can't get over the line, he's on the back foot as he dumps a forehand into the middle. DJOKOVIC BREAKS MEDVEDEV FOR THE FIRST TIME

10:19 PM

Djokovic* 4-6, 4-6, 2-5 Medvedev (*denotes next server)

Just when you think Djokovic is in a position of control at 30-15, the errors creep in again, a tame forehand into the middle handing Medvedev another free point.

An out swinging first serve takes him closer to the line, and another solid first serve brings up a second game of the set. He hasn't yet broken the Russian this match, what a time to have to try and produce the goods in the next game.

10:16 PM

Djokovic* 4-6, 4-6, 1-5 Medvedev (*denotes next server)

Plenty of support on Ashe as Djokovic takes the opening point of Medvedev's serve, and the volume is cranked up a notch as he slips 15-30 behind.

The Russian has a huge slice of good fortune as a return clips the tape and lands favourably in Djokovic's half - much to the annoyance of the crowd who are desperate to see this final become a contest.

At 30-all, Djokovic blinks first during the next lengthy rally. It's been the story of Djokovic's night. The No 2 seed moves to within a game of the championship. Djokovic blows out a huge sigh of frustration.

10:12 PM

Djokovic 4-6, 4-6, 1-4 Medvedev* (*denotes next server)

Medvedev swinging loosely on a few Djokovic first serves now as the Serbian races through a love hold. Don't think the Russian will be giving that game much thought though.

James Corden takes in the action  - Shutterstock
James Corden takes in the action - Shutterstock

10:10 PM

Djokovic* 4-6, 4-6, 0-4 Medvedev (*denotes next server)

Ace No 14 for Medvedev this match takes him to 30-15, which soon becomes two game points when Djokovic slaps a forehand long. Medvedev flashes a backhand cross court which flicks off the tape but still lands good. And that's a four-game cushion established.

10:06 PM

Djokovic 4-6, 4-6, 0-3 Medvedev* (*denotes next server)

Nervy moments again from Djokovic as he slips 0-30 behind. His service game hasn't fired today. Medvedev is pinned behind the baseline as Djokovic pegs him back to 30-all but is back on song with a serve-volley to edge to game point.

The Russian won't go quietly this game, unleashes a backhand down the line which leaves Djokovic rooted to the baseline. Danger now as Djokovic loops a sliced return into the net to gift his rival a free point, and it's a break point. It's loose again from Djokovic at the net as he pushes a volley into the tramlines. Medvedev can almost see the finish line. MEDVEDEV BREAKS AGAIN

Medvedev is closing in on victory  - Getty Images
Medvedev is closing in on victory - Getty Images

10:00 PM

Djokovic* 4-6, 4-6, 0-2 Medvedev (*denotes next server)

Errors still keep coming from Djokovic, even when Medvedev seemingly presents him with a chance to let rip with a groundstroke. It's a hard watch for Djokovic's box right now. Medvedev is invited to the net and now it's his turn to strike long when well placed for 30-all. Bad timing and loose movement again from Djokovic as he wildly misses a volley, but he's not giving up this game as he draws back to deuce. But just when it looks like he has to set up break point, he slaps an easy forehand into the net from close range. The groans ring round Arthur Ashe. Medvedev chases down a short reply during the next lengthy rally. He doesn't want to hang around this game. He flicks a forehand cross court and throws his arms to the skies in delight.

09:55 PM

Djokovic 4-6, 4-6, 0-1 Medvedev* (*denotes next server)

Djokovic looking to move more freely at the start of the third, knowing he has to go for it now and loosen the shackles to try and claw his way back. A backhand lands into the tramlines to bring Medvedev in at 30-all and now the Russian has a chance of an early break when Djokovic pushes a volley into the tape. It's a lengthy rally, but finally Djokovic slices long. Wow. MEDVEDEV BREAKS.

09:48 PM

Djokovic* 4-6, 4-6 Medvedev (*denotes next server)

Drama free game from Medvedev as he serves for the second set. He teases Djokovic to net with a drop shot, and then mops up the reply on the chase by pushing a forehand into the corner. It brings up three set points. Nerves now as he sends down a double, then misses another first serve and pushes a backhand into the tramlines. Not to worry, he still has another set point as the camera flashes to an anxious-looking Brad Pitt in the stands. This time he pushes a drop shot back which Djokovic strikes wide inexplicably. MEDVEDEV TAKES SECOND SET TO MOVE TWO SETS TO LOVE UP.

09:42 PM

Djokovic 4-6, 4-5 Medvedev* (*denotes next server)

Medvedev swarming all over the world No 1 again, forces another error from his great rival to draw him in at 30-all. The No 2 seed chances it with an lob, but it lands just long and Djokovic can breath a sigh of relief. Djokovic guards the net during the next point and gets over the line. Now he'll need to try and make inroads on Medvedev's serve when they come out again.

09:40 PM

Djokovic* 4-6, 3-5 Medvedev (*denotes next server)

Djokovic doesn't get a look in on Medvedev's serve as the Russian holds to love. He's upping his level again as the set progresses while Djokovic still can't settle. Very unDjokovic like.

09:35 PM

Djokovic 4-6, 3-4 Medvedev* (*denotes next server)

Oor er. Medvedev has another look at a break chance at 0-30 as he gets the better of his rival from the lengthy rallies again. Djokovic still can't buy a first serve, he's looking to get behind his serve and into the net trying to cut short the points, but he's struggling to find any rhythm on his serve.

Medvedev strikes long at 30-all as Djokovic tries to navigate his way through the game, which he duly does.

09:31 PM

Djokovic* 4-6, 2-4 Medvedev (*denotes next server)

Bold from Medvedev as he swipes a forehand deep into the corner to end a 23-stroke rally for 30-0. He swiftly turns it into three game points and how he'll want a comfortable hold after a couple of sticky service games. He does indeed hold to love to cement the break.

09:26 PM

Djokovic 4-6, 2-3 Medvedev* (*denotes next server)

A wry smile now from Djokovic at another wayward groundstroke as he slips to 15-30 down.

A tame backhand is looped into the net to gift Medvedev two break points. He saves the first, but his timing is off at the net trying to make a pick up at close quarters. Wow. MEDVEDEV BREAKS.

09:22 PM

Djokovic* 4-6, 2-2 Medvedev (*denotes next server)

Medvedev sat with the towel draped over his head during the changeover, gathering his thoughts and blocking out any outside distractions.

He puts to use all of his concentration tactics during a key point at 30-all, winning a 27-stroke rally when Djokovic pushes long, but then drives a backhand wide for deuce.

With the clock approaching the hour mark, Djokovic brings up break point but Medvedev closes the door with a cross court drop shot which is out of the Serbian's reach. He thinks about swinging his racket to the hard court, but opts against it with a big girl retrieving the loose ball.

Not to worry, he brings up another break point only for Medvedev to close the door again with a backhand deep into the corner.

Finally, this time Djokovic freaks out, thrashing his racket to the surface not once, twice but three times. The crowd let them know what they think of pique of rage. The world No 1 is handed a violation for racket abuse. Not surprisingly, as well as losing his rag, he misses the chance to break too.

09:11 PM

Djokovic 4-6, 2-1 Medvedev* (*denotes next server)

Nervy moments again for Djokovic at 15-30. Medvedev goes toe-to-toe with his rival at the baseline, but then shanks a forehand off the top of his racket into the tramlines, much to his disbelief.

The Russian isn't passive during the next rally, pulling the trigger on a forehand on the charge and unleashes a fist pump to try and win over some of the fans on Arthur Ashe. It brings up another break point. But what a time for Djokovic to pull out a big first serve, a monster at 124mph out wide. He backs it up with an ace to switch the game to advantage. Medvedev temporarily hangs around, but he's given the run around by the world No 1, who brings up another game point. This time he gets over the line and edges back in front this set.

Ben Stiller and wife Christine Taylor watch the final, with Rami Malek behind them - USA TODAY
Ben Stiller and wife Christine Taylor watch the final, with Rami Malek behind them - USA TODAY

09:03 PM

Djokovic* 4-6, 1-1 Medvedev (*denotes next server)

For the first time this match, Medvedev's concentration levels dip and he stares down at three break points.

He saves two and then looks on with glee as Djokovic dumps an unforced error into the net. The Serbian slaps his thighs in annoyance, wanting to free them of the glue they are metaphorically stuck in with nerves seemingly taking hold. Medvedev turns the screw, and the game as he goes on to hold.

08:59 PM

Djokovic 4-6, 1-0 Medvedev* (*denotes next server)

Djokovic with the perfect response at the start of the second set. He holds to love. No surprise to be honest that he dropped that opening set either. It continues the trend this fortnight.

08:54 PM

Djokovic* 4-6 Medvedev (*denotes next server)

Medvedev's bullet arm has a malfunction at 30-0 when he sends down a double fault, but normal service is resumed to bring up two set points. He takes it with an ace after just 37 minutes on the clock.

08:50 PM

Djokovic 4-5 Medvedev* (*denotes next server)

Nervy moments at 30-all as Djokovic misses another first serve. Medvedev is standing a mile behind the baseline for the second serve, but he makes a big swing only to find Djokovic lurking at the net, forcing his rival to pass but he can't. A decent hold in the end from a potential position of danger.

Meanwhile...

08:46 PM

Djokovic* 3-5 Medvedev (*denotes next server)

Another blink and you miss it sort of service game from Medvedev. An ace out wide secures another love hold. One game from the opening set.

08:44 PM

Djokovic 3-4 Medvedev* (*denotes next server)

Djokovic settling now, changes things up and advances to the net to cut short the points en route for 40-0. It looks to be the tactic that secures him the game, but he pushes his volley long. The crowd yet to get going. Possibly waiting for Djokovic still to kick into his full life. Poor old Amazon Prime are struggling with gremlins in New York which means we can't hear a jot from commentators Tim Henman and Jim Courier.

08:40 PM

Djokovic* 2-4 Medvedev (*denotes next server)

The world No 1 is barely getting a look in on the Medvedev serve. At 40-0 up again, Djokovic draws his rival into a rally and forces the Russian to go long. But Medvedev is like a fly buzzing around his face in the next point, sending anything Djokovic is throwing back at him with power and precision. Another comfortable hold.

08:35 PM

Djokovic 2-3 Medvedev* (*denotes next server)

Djokovic slowly settling into his service rhythm now as he moves through the gears and serves out his own love hold.

08:34 PM

Djokovic* 1-3 Medvedev (*denotes next server)

Medvedev in his service groove again, racing to 40-0 courtesy of two aces. He wraps up game with a clinical forehand down the line.

08:31 PM

Djokovic 1-2 Medvedev* (*denotes next server)

Awful drop shot attempt from Djokovic draws the groans from the crowd. Nerves no doubt playing their part at the start of this final.

The service yips are hampering him, another double fault handing Medvedev a mini break at 0-30.

A flat forehand dumped into the net gifts Medvedev another free point, and another break point chance at 15-40. The Russian goes for it on a service return, flashing a shot around the post, but Djokovic is there to swipe a reply back into the empty court and then send down an overhead during the next point to draw level at deuce.

An ace down the T turns the game around and he duly gets on the board with another ace.

08:26 PM

Djokovic* 0-2 Medvedev (*denotes next server)

Boom. Medvedev sends down a marker with a powerful ace down the middle as he races to 40-0 in a flash. The Russian isn't one to dither on his service motion and quickly holds to 15. Pressure straight back on Djokovic.

08:23 PM

Djokovic 0-1 Medvedev* (*denotes next server)

Djokovic opens service proceedings for the final match of the US Open and gifts Medvedev his first point at 15-15 with a first double fault. Deep hitting from the world No 1 draws the error from his rival and he mixes it up during the next point, rushing the net and pushing home a volley into the corner for 40-15.

The Serbian pushes long on one groundstroke, and then is pegged back to deuce as Medvedev stays toe-to-toe during an 18-stroke rally that sees Djokovic blink first.

Medvedev lasts the distance again during the next rally, brings up his first break point in the process. And he makes the break when Djokovic loosely sends a forehand into the tramlines. MEDVEDEV BREAKS.

08:12 PM

Big reception for both men

Medvedev walks out onto Arthur Ashe first to a giant roar. The volume is then cranked up another notch as Djokovic takes to the stage that has seen him land four of his 20 majors to date.

08:06 PM

Pre-match entertainment under way

Not long now before the players will be taking to Arthur Ashe. Just the usual pre-match entertainment to digest with actor and singer Christopher Jackson unleashing his version of America the Beautiful and the Stars and Stripes of the American flag unfurled on court.

08:01 PM

Will fresher legs help out Medvedev?

Quite a few of the tournament stats lean towards Medvedev holding the edge and advantage heading into tonight's showdown.

But do you dare write off Djokovic?

07:35 PM

Coco can't match success of teenager Raducanu

Coco Gauff and Caty McNally were hoping to join 18-year-old Raducanu as teenage titlists at the US Open in the women's doubles final.

But it was veterans Sam Stosur and Zhang Shuai who denied the youngsters and won their second doubles title together.

Gauff smashed her racket in annoyance at the end, and flung it to the advertising boards, narrowly missing a spectator in the process.

07:25 PM

How does Djokovic follow Raducanu?

It has to take something special to upstage Djokovic going for a calendar grand slam, and a record 21st major. But nearly everyone in New York and in tennis circles is still talking about Emma Raducanu's fairy tale victory last night.

Here's everything you need to know about the teenager's dream win, and how the world has reacted.

07:17 PM

Head-to-head

As is the case with most of his head-to-heads, Djokovic has the edge over today's rival, winning five of their eight meetings.

Their last battle came back in the Australian Open final in January, when Djokovic needed just one hour and 53 minutes to demolish Medvedev in straight sets 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.

The Russian's last win over the top seed came in the round robin stages of the ATP Finals in London last year, while Cincinnati (hard court) and Monte Carlo (clay) both in 2019 were the scene of Medvedev's other successes.

"It's going to be a battle... he's already had couple of Grand Slam finals behind him. I think experience-wise it's different for him now," Djokovic said.

Medvedev, meanwhile, says he will just try and stick to his game plan and won't let the occasion get the better of him - even if winning comes with an added bonus.

"If I can make this, I'll probably be in the history books for not letting him do this. But I don't really care... it affects him."

07:05 PM

Djokovic in pursuit of double slice of history

The world's top two men's players meet in tonight's US Open final chasing their own piece of history.

While Novak Djokovic is one victory from a calendar grand slam, and a historic 21st major, across the net will be a certain Russian in Daniil Medvedev striving to secure a maiden grand slam.

Victory tonight would make Djokovic only the third man after Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) to sweep all four majors in the same year. Medvedev, meanwhile, will be hoping it is a case of third time lucky in a major final.

Djokovic has had a sticky path to the final than in previous years gone by, losing the opening set in his last three matches before roaring back each time (in typical Djokovic fashion) to come out on top. His most recent coming in his semi-final ding-dong with fourth seed Alexander Zverev.

There is more than just the calendar grand slam at play, with the 34-year-old tantalisingly close to landing a record 21st major to move past Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.

"I know we want to talk about history. I know it's on the line," Djokovic said. "I'm going to treat this match as it's my last one because it's arguably the most important one of my career."

Medvedev, on the other hand, has cruised to the final, dropping just one set and putting on an exhibition of brutal tennis that has seen him emerge as the one of the most exciting prospects on tour.

"The more you lose something, the more you want to win it... I lost two finals. I want to win the third one," said the Russian, who came up short against Nadal in New York in 2019 and was beaten by Djokovic in the Australian Open final this year.

The Serb did not have much trouble seeing off Medvedev in straight sets at Melbourne Park in January, but the 25-year-old looks a more seasoned competitor now, having previously unsettled Djokovic with his intensity.

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