From the moment he jumped onto the pitch, the fact that the Serbian Novak Djokovic had within reach of his hand to make history by winning the US Open, thus accumulating the four Grand Slam in the same year, permeated the atmosphere of an exultant Arthur Ashe Stadium, but in the end everything was in a dream.
The New York public, aware that they could witness a milestone that no one has achieved in more than half a century, was elated, and welcomed both Djokovic and his feared rival and second favorite of the tournament, the Russian. Daniil Medvedev, who also wanted to score a professional feat: to get his first great.
Medvedev had the honey on his lips in 2019 at Flushing Meadows, losing in a fiercely close fight of almost five hours to Rafa Nadal, and earlier this year he came close to clinching the Australian Open, but Djokovic beat him easily.
“I’m going to treat this game as if it were the last of my career,” Djokovic said in the on-court interview after beating the German. Alexander Zverev in the semifinal.
“I’m going to give everything I have left on Sunday, and I have a lot left,” Medvedev said.
Thus began the Russian, breaking the serve in the first game to Djokovic, who minutes before jumping onto the track already admitted that his opponent arrived with the deposit practically full.
Although Djokovic has not always been the most popular player in Flushing Meadows, audiences clearly wanted to see the current world number one make history, and the Arthur Ashe He burst into cheering applause when just after a quarter of an hour into the game he managed to avoid a 3-0 against him that seemed inevitable.
The entire stadium, more than 25,700 people, chanted Novak’s name in the eighth game of the match, when Medvedev was close to winning the first set, and also at the start of the second set, when the Serbian had a set against .
But the madness was unleashed completely and the stadium vibrated every time Nole had a break point, which ended up escaping him.
At the start of the second set, in one of those opportunities that he failed to take advantage of to get ahead on the scoreboard, the Serbian was carried away by rage, as is usual when things are not going well, and smashed a racket. .
Medvedev went to practically everything and disarmed Djokovic with his lashes, who had too many balls left in the net and frequently missed at key moments.
You could see that the Muscovite was full of energy and confidence, having reached the final after a series of games without too much complication, and after having won 14 of his last 15 games.
“Novak, wake up!” (Novak, wake up!) Some fans shouted moments before he lost his second set, but it was too late. Neither the constant deafening cheers of the public nor the electric atmosphere of the Arthur Ashe brought him out of the nightmare, and Medvedev scored the third and final set without major obstacles. With boos and whistles from some fans when he committed double faults on the first match balls.
In the stands, I watched the show Rod Laver, the 83-year-old Australian who in 1969 won all four Grand Slam in the same year, and whom the organization of the Tennis Open had invited to see Djokovic live match his expected milestone, especially with the absence of his two eternal rivals, Nadal and Federer.
“I’m sorry. We all know what you wanted to achieve today,” Medvedev told Djokovic before receiving the award from the former tennis player. Stan smith.
“But with everything you have done … I have never told anyone, but for me you are the best player in history,” added the winner against the Serbian, visibly affected.
In addition to the sports battle, the huge screens of the Arthur Ashe also reflected in the breaks a good number of familiar faces from the entertainment world who had attended the sporting event, such as the actors Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, Ben Stiller, Rami Malek, Laverne Cox, Alec Baldwin, Clare Danes, Lupita Nyongo, Christine Taylor or Juliana Marguilles.
Djokovic couldn’t help crying with excitement during the trophy ceremony, but television cameras also caught his cry of frustration at the break leading up to what would be the final game of the final. Tears of some rage, because he was coming very close to completing a Grand Slam in the same season. Tensioned, he was overtaken by a rival whom he had submitted this same 2021 in the final of the Australian Open.