The second set, which lasted an average of 1 hour and 44 minutes, was a true test of tenacity and talent in the US Open final, as Noval Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev cemented their status with scores of 32 .
He’s one of an endless number of players with similar styles, especially Djokovic, when he drives his backhand into the net. He lay on his back, chest lifted. The audience cheered. Djokovic continued to lie down for a while, the crowd enthralled by his performance and entertainment.
With a string of resources, Djokovic defeated Medvedev 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 at Flushing Meadows on Sunday to win a historic 24th Grand Slam title.
Don’t be fooled by the straight-set result. It was a close game.
The Serbian star moved one title ahead of Serena Williams to become the first player in the open era of tennis that began in 1968 to amass 24 Grand Slam titles. Margaret Court also amassed 24 Grand Slam titles, but 13 of her trophies were won before professionals were allowed to compete in major events.
“I never thought I would stand in front of you and talk about 24 Grand Slams. I never thought this would become a reality,” said the 36-year-old Djokovic, who became the oldest tournament winner in the professional era. “But in recent years, I’ve felt like I have possibilities, I have a chance to make history. If you have it there, why not take it?”
In several passages of the final, tenacity overshadowed individual talent. After some of the more grueling matches, Djokovic took a break by kneeling or leaning on his racket.
He allowed Medvedev to win the set by one point at 6-5. Djokovic served and hit the net, and the Russian had a chance to hit a backhand cross, but he missed. This was just one of two break points faced by Djokovic, both of which he saved.
It’s a change of tactics for Djokovic, who will return to the top of the rankings on Monday. When he finds himself in trouble, he resorts to a serve and volley, something he doesn’t normally do. The bet worked out perfectly for him. He scored 20 of his 22 points that way and scored 37 of his 44 total points when he went to the net.
He defeated Medvedev in the 2021 Flushing Meadows final, preventing him from completing his first Grand Slam in more than half a century in the same year.
“First of all, Novak, I have to ask you something: what are you still doing here?” Medvedev joked at the award ceremony.
Djokovic won a fourth title in New York, a year after he was unable to compete because he had not had a coronavirus vaccine, taking his 10th title at the Australian Open to 10 at Wimbledon. He won 7 championships in the tournament and 3 championships in the French Open. The all-time leader in men’s tennis. Rafael Nadal, who has been sidelined since January with a hip problem requiring surgery, was next with 22 points. Roger Federer, who retired a year ago, is close behind with 20 points.
After the final point, Medvedev touched Djokovic’s chest while chatting in front of the net. Djokovic put down his racket, raised his arms, knelt down and lowered his head. Their celebration begins. He climbed into the stands to hug his seven-year-old daughter, Tara. He does this with his son and wife, in addition to the other members of his team.
Back on the court, Djokovic wore a jersey emblazoned with the number “24” and the words “Mamba Forever” to pay tribute to late NBA star Kobe Bryant, who wore that number. He also donned a white jacket with the number emblazoned on the chest.
Djokovic has a 27-1 record in majors this season and is as strong as ever. The only negative was his loss to Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final in July. Djokovic will return to the top of the rankings on Monday, replacing defending Flushing Meadows champion Alcaraz, who was eliminated by Medvedev in the semifinals.
During Sunday’s early play, with Arthur Ashe Stadium’s retractable roof closed due to forecast rain, Djokovic played to his heart’s content and showed no signs of nervousness for the time being.
He moves with ease and hits the ball with precision. He is the best Djokovic. He scored 12 of the first 16 points, three of which came via perfectly placed aces.
Medvedev, on the other hand, was hesitant from the start and his return wasn’t executed deftly. It wasn’t until the second set that he found his best equipment.
“I should be less stubborn,” Medvedev said. He went 1-4 in Grand Slam finals, losing twice to Djokovic and twice to Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic was impeccable and anticipated everything.
The public also turned in his favour, something not often seen in the Serbian’s career. Thousands of spectators chanted his two-syllable nickname “Come on, Knoller!” and guests in his box, such as award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, offered encouragement.
Djokovic showed his first real sign of emotion when he got set point in the first set after a Medvedev error. He raised his fist to his companion who stood up. When Medvedev made another mistake to end the set, Djokovic took a deep breath and walked to his chair.
The Serbian is a student of opponent statistics and trends. It depends on your instincts and your ability to predict your opponent’s serve and return. On Sunday, his blue sneakers often put him in the right position. His extraordinary flexibility allows him to keep the ball in motion.
Is Djokovic perfect? No. But he was close at times, and that was enough for him to win again.