Tennis Prose



Medvedev Masterpiece Conquers US Open But Djokovic Won Something Too

Daniil Medvedev played the greatest tennis match today in the history of the sport, a masterpiece performance to defy Novak Djokovic from a record breaking 21st Grand Slam and the calendar year Grand Slam fourth major of the year.

The score was 64 64 64 but it seemed more dominant than that. It was not a matter of Djokovic having weak legs or succumbing to the enormous pressure and magnitude of the moment. No, let’s get it straight right now, Djokovic was defeated today by a near perfect effort by an overdue player, who had lost in his two previous Grand Slam finals.

What the 25 year old Medvedev did today calls to mind two other near perfect, devastating tennis performances in Grand Slam finals, both played on the very same Arthur Ashe Stadium court. Lleyton Hewitt’s 2001 final vs Pete Sampras and Marat Safin’s 2000 final also vs Pete Sampras.

Medvedev’s victory today was even better because he managed to play it against the all time greatest player at his very best, just one match away from his 21st major and the Grand Slam.

The match began with Djokovic ahead 40-15 on his first service game but Medvedev won four points in a row to break. It was evident early Medvedev was playing at a phenomenally high level, which Djokovic was not expecting and he simply could not cope with it or offset it. Medvedev held serve easily, serving bullets for aces and free points and he backed it up with superior baseline play. His level never dropped until the very end like a momentary hiccup.

In a sense Medvedev was out-Djokoviching Novak. A better, taller, longer limbed, ten years younger version with a better serve today. Djokovic of course battled like the all time warrior legend wolf he is but he could never get ahold of control of the match.

In the second set he had an opening early – a love-40 triple break point on the Russian’s serve but he failed to break. Shortly after that missed opportunity, Djokovic erupted and smashed his racquet four times. The superb play of his adversary was driving him mad.

It was clear now, the best of Djokovic was no match for Medvedev today. Medvedev may have wanted this title more. He arrived at the stadium at 9:30 am, Djokovic arrived at around 1. Medvedev has failed two other times to Djokovic in majors, once in a final this year in Melbourne. He also lost to Nadal here in the final two years ago.

So Medvedev was a man possessed and he was able to summon the best tennis he ever played today, despite about 100 percent of Ashe Stadium wanting Djokovic to win. His time has come and he would not let it slip away this time.

Djokovic has had a historic and exhausting year and a draining 2021 US Open with four extremely testing and challenging matches before the final. And the pressure on him to win this last match surely must have stressed him in ways and amounts none of us can possibly attempt to imagine.

But Djokovic tried until the end, down 64 64 and 51 he rallied for 54. The crowd had willed him back into the match.

On the 54 changoever Djokovic, so touched and moved by the crowd’s frenzied, roaring support for him, that he began to cry. He covered his face in a white towel and cried uncontrollably. It seemed the love and acceptance from the full stadium suddenly meant more to him than winning the any trophy or a Grand Slam.

Djokovic tried to regroup and regain his composure but he couldn’t play anymore. He had finally won something he had never won before. What he earned today meant more than another trophy or title.

The two champions embraced at the net and they both looked happy for their own reasons. It looked like Medvedev said he was sorry for beating him and costing him another historic mark, the biggest one of all. And Djokovic seemed to reply, that it was okay and the mew, first time major title winner had earned it the hard way.

Moments later Djokovic said Medvedev’s play was amazing and that he really didn’t feel sadness for his failure today, he actually felt joy in his heart because of the emotional approval he finally received in New York.

Medvedev’s performance today was the greatest I’ve ever seen on a tennis court. Djokovic won something today that he never won before, more valuable than an inanimate object trophy…the love of the gallery. Two winners today. This was the best overall US Open we ever saw.

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  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2021 at 9:46 pm

    Djokovic said the emotions he felt from the crowd support at the end felt as strong as the emotions of winning 21 Grand Slams…. He said he felt below par on everything, it wasn’t meant to be…he felt slower today.

  • Krzysztof · October 4, 2021 at 7:16 am

    I do not agree with statement that it was the best US Open ever…. the level of tennis was at times good (e.g. Tsitsipas vs Alcaraz or Auger vs Bautista) but still even the most anticipated matches like Djokovic vs Zverev, Djokovic vs Berrettini, Medvedev vs Djokovic turned out to be just mediocre mainly thanks to subpar performance by top players mostly fatigued after intense summer. Just taking comparison with US Open 1992 (great 5 setters with contrasting styles, e.g. Edberg vs Krajicek, Edberg vs Chang, Edberg vs Lendl), US Open 1995 (big battles like Agassi vs Korda, Agassi vs Becker, Sampras vs Agassi with some memorable points), US Open 1997 (Sampras vs Korda, Rafter vs Rusedski) or US Open 2001 (with Roddick vs Hewitt, Hewitt vs Blake, Sampras vs Agassi regarded as the best ever US Open match), it looks that tennis nowadays is very monotonous with athletes exchanging many strokes before committing an error. Of course, there are winning shots too, but in the past there were flashy winners and electric atmosphere with serve and volley vs powerful baseliners duels…

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 4, 2021 at 7:53 am

    Krzysztof, it is impossible to accurately measure the quality of tennis at each Grand Slam as each marathon two week lasting major tournament all include many many many magical moments and matches. But what set this US Open apart just a little bit was the energy of not having Serena, Fed and Rafa around. I actually feel this was a benefit in a way. Far too many players play Fed Rafa Serena and they defer and roll over and give a very bad match, afraid to win and afraid to upset the gallery. This year we did not have that, we had many new young players with no fear and not afraid to show their fire and fists – like Leylah, Brooksby, Med, Raducanu, Carlos, etc. No chance in hell Leylah would have raised her fists like she did had she been playing Serena. The womens final of Emma vs Leylah was one of the most interesting of the century for me at least. And Djokovic’s quest for making history falling just one match short was another intriguing drama to watch. Unfortunately he ran out of gas at the end and Med performed a tennis masterpiece. There has never been a bad Grand Slam tournament, even if there were some very bad finals. But this US Open stood out for me and I enjoyed it immensely. Hope you did too…. and don’t forget 1991 Jimbomania’s run.



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