Novak Djokovic was denied the chance to make history at the US Open, as he lost in the final to Daniil Medvedev. The world No 1 came to New York with his sights set on completing the calendar Grand Slam and winning a record 21st Major title, pulling him ahead of long-time rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. He fell at the final hurdle, as world No 2 Medvedev dispatched the Serb in three sets to lift his maiden Grand Slam crown.
Djokovic had his sights firmly set on the US Open after picking up titles at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
The Serb was looking to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four Grand Slams in one year, and came to Flushing Meadows as the favourite with his fellow Big Three members and defending champion Dominic Thiem all having ended their seasons early through injuries.
He battled his way to the final, dropping six sets en-route compared to just one lost by Medvedev, but looked a shadow of his usual self in the championship match, having previously said he wanted to play like it was the “last match” of his career.
The 25-year-old dominated the longer rallies and fired big serves past the world No 1, picking up his maiden Grand Slam title as he left Djokovic tied with Federer and Nadal on 20 each.
Djokovic’s biggest rivals are yet to comment on the events of the US Open, undergoing their own respective surgeries and recovery processes for ongoing injuries, but Nadal’s long-time former coach and uncle has lifted the lid on how the pair will be feeling following the Serb’s defeat.
“I believe that both Roger and Rafael will have breathed a sigh of relief,” Toni Nadal wrote in El Pais. He also said Rod Laver would likely have joined them in feeling some relief, as the Australian tennis legend now remains the last man to win the calendar Grand Slam, 52 years ago.
Toni, who coached his nephew Nadal from when he was a child all the way up until the end of the 2017 season, also thought Djokovic’s failure to pull ahead of them in the Grand Slam race would give them extra motivation to return to the tour in 2022 feeling competitive.
He continued: “They should now feel a little stronger to continue with the race next year “Djokovic will accuse such a painful defeat but will raise his head to face the next season. “Federer and Rafael will see their spirits renewed to fight for their recovery. “And the three will continue to give reasons to their millions of followers, still in suspense, to follow and support them for a while longer.”
Djokovic himself admitted he had no plans following his defeat in the US Open final, with his sights only set on winning in New York. Speaking after his defeat to Medvedev, he said: “To be honest, I don’t have a plan, absolutely nothing. I don’t know whether I’ll play anything, anywhere.
“Right now, my mind is only here, in New York.” The world No 1 has already qualified for the year-end Nitto ATP Finals, being held in Turin for the first time, and there are two more big tournaments left this season that fans will be hoping to see him play in.
The postponed Masters 1000 in Indian Wells begins on October 7, while the final Masters tournament of the year in Paris begins on November 1, with the ATP Finals kicking off two weeks later.