Russia’s world number two, Daniil Medvedev, finally came of age as he defeated world number one Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-4 6-4 in straight sets in the final of the US Open to claim his first grand slam title and deny the Serb the honour of winning a calendar grand slam.
Medvedev, 25, came into his final match against Djokovic as the man with the most hard-court wins this year. Still, most people expected the world number one to claim his fourth US Open crown and become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four grand slams in a calendar year after his successes in the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.
En route to the final, Medvedev had dropped just one set in his six matches, and that came against Dutch qualifier Botic van Zandschulp in the quarterfinals. Djokovic, on the other hand, won only one match in straight sets against Tallon Griekspoor in the second round. From the third round onwards, the Serbian lost the first sets in each of his matches.
Medvedev started the match in brilliant fashion in front of a partisan New York crowd at the Arthur Ashe Stadium. The Russian claimed the first two games to go 2-0 up, showing a ruthlessness to his game by denying his 34-year-old opponent a chance to get a foothold in the first set. Djokovic tried to claw back his way, but each time, Medvedev responded by winning another game. The Russian eventually won the first set 6-4.
Djokovic claimed the first game of the second set and kept his lead until Medvedev levelled at 2-2. The Russian then won the next two games to go 4-2 up and then break against a knackered Djokovic to win the second set 6-4.
Going down two sets in a grand slam final is not new to Djokovic, who, earlier this year at the French Open lost the opening two sets to Stefanos Tsitsipas before staging a comeback to win the match. This time, the desire and focus from Medvedev proved to be great as the Russian claimed the first four games of the third set to go 4-0 up. Djokovic looked spent but was cheered on by most of the 23,000 fans inside the stadium, and he fought back to make it 4-1. Medvedev made it 5-1 against Djokovic to put him on the verge of winning the US Open.
The crowd began to make a great deal of noise in a bid to help Djokovic, and it worked well as Medvedev defaulted on his championship points to get Djokovic to drag the set back to 5-4. The Russian then found his composure as he sent a powerful forehand across, which Djokovic could only hit into the net, to win his final point.
Medvedev was excellent against Djokovic in the US Open final as he banished the ghosts from his two previous grand slam final defeats to claim his first-ever grand slam. The 25-year-old was utterly deserving of the title, having been one of the best players outside of the big three in recent years. The Russian denied Djokovic of two huge achievements in a single day, but it does not bother him too much as he has finally won his first grand slam title.