Novak Djokovic emerged triumphant from an intense and grueling US Open final, squeezing all his energy to beat Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3 on Sunday. Don’t be fooled by the result in straight sets. It was a much closer match.
The 36-year-old Serbian star moved one title ahead of Serena Williams, becoming the first player to amass all 24 Grand Slam crowns in tennis’ open era, which began in 1968. Margaret Court also accumulated 24, but 13 of her trophies were won before the professionals were allowed to participate in the big events. “It’s something I treasure immensely,” said Djokovic, who will return to the top of the rankings on Monday. The tenacity overshadowed the individual brilliance during several passages of the final, with one in particular during a second set that took 1 hour and 44 minutes. After some of the most grueling rallies Djokovic got down on his knees or leaned on his racket to take a breather.
He let Medvedev come within one point of taking that set by receiving with the score 6-5. Djokovic went to the net after taking out and Medvedev had the opportunity to put in a backhand cross that he missed. It was just one of two break balls Djokovic faced, erasing both. It was a change of tactics on the part of the Serb. When he found himself in trouble, he resorted to serve and volley, something he does not usually do. And the bet worked enormously. He took 20 of the 22 points he played like this, and 37 of the 44 in total when he went to the net.
This consecration against Medvedev, the opponent who beat him in the 2021 final at Flushing Meadows to prevent him from completing the first Grand Slam in a year in more than half a century, made Djokovic the oldest champion in the history of the US Open in the professional era.
“First of all, Novak, I have to ask you something: What are you still doing here?” joked Medvedev during the award ceremony. Djokovic’s fourth championship in New York, where he could not play a year ago because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19, adds to the 10 he has collected from the Australian Open, seven from Wimbledon and three from the French Open, moving away from the top of the historical table of men’s tennis. Rafael Nadal, without playing since January, due to a hip ailment that required surgery, follows with 22. Roger Federer, who retired a year ago, finished with 20.
After the last point, Medvedev touched Djokovic’s chest as he chatted at the net. Djokovic let go of his racket, raised his arms and knelt down, lowering his head. His celebration began. She climbed the steps to hug her seven-year-old daughter, Tara. He did it also with his son and wife, in addition to the rest of his team. Back on the court, Djokovic donned a jersey with the number “24” and the phrase “Mamba Forever” as a tribute to the late NBA star Kobe Bryant, who wore that number. He also put on a white jacket with that number emblazoned on his chest.
Plethoric as ever, Djokovic went 27-1 at the Slams this season. The only negative note was when he lost to Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final in July. Djokovic will return to the top of the rankings on Monday, displacing Alcaraz, the defending champion at Flushing Meadows who was eliminated by Medvedev in the semifinals. In the early stages on Sunday, with the retractable roof of Arthur Ashe Stadium closed due to the forecast of rain, Djokovic played at ease and without showing any tension for the moment. He moved with solvency and hit the ball with precision. He was the best Djokovic possible. He took 12 of the first 16 points — three on perfectly placed aces.
Medvedev, on the other hand, started hesitantly and his returns were not executed with finesse. It wasn’t until the second set that he found his best march. But Djokovic was impeccable, anticipating everything. And the public was in his favor, something that has not always been seen in the career of the Serb. Encouragement came from thousands of spectators chanting “Let’s go No-le!”, his two-syllable nickname and from guests in his box, such as award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey. When he had the set ball in hand in the first after a mistake by Medvedev, Djokovic showed his first genuine gesture of emotion. He raised his fist towards his companions who had stood up. When another Medvedev miss ended the set, Djokovic took a deep breath and went to his chair.
The Serbian is a student of the data and trends of his rivals. It depends on your instincts and your ability to anticipate the opponent’s serves and returns. On Sunday, his blue sneakers got him in the right place, most of the time. And his exceptional flexibility allowed him to keep the ball in play. Was he a perfect Djokovic? Lol But he was close to being at times and it was enough to win once again. (https://www.elnuevoherald.com/deportes/otros-deportes/article279186074.html)