Djokovic wears down Medvedev to win US Open, equals Margaret Court’s all-time slam record of 24
The Serb saved a set point in the second set before pulling away to become the oldest man to win the title in the Open era
The Serb saved a set point in an epic second set and then held on to win the third to pull two clear of Rafael Nadal at the top of the all-time men’s Grand Slam list and pull level with all-time leader Margaret Court.
“It obviously means the world to me,” said Djokovic, who wore a white jacket with the number 24 emblazoned on it as he collected his trophy from the 2003 champion Andy Roddick. “I’m really living my childhood dream to compete at the highest level in a sport that has meant so much to my family.
“To make the history of this sport is something truly remarkable and special, in every possible meaning of the word. Its hard to describe in words. When I was seven, eight, I wanted to be the best player in the world and win Wimbledon.
“I never imagined I would be here talking about wining 24 slams. But the last couple of years I felt I had a chance, I had a shot at history so why not grab it if it’s presented.”
At 36, Djokovic, who could not play in New York last year due to the country’s entry ban on unvaccinated non-citizens, is the oldest man to win the US Open in the Open era and he will leave as the world No 1 again, having outgunned the 27-year-old Medvedev in a gruelling, brutal encounter. He’s also won three slams in the same year for the fourth time in his career.
Djokovic won 37 of 44 points at the net, denying Medvedev the time he likes, shortening the points and conserving whatever energy he could, despite a series of lung-busting rallies. And when Medvedev’s last forehand hit the net, Djokovic let the emotions out, letting the enormity of his achievements start to sink in.
Djokovic starts fast, mixing things up perfectly
With rain in the area, the roof was closed, just adding to an atmosphere made even more exciting by the presence of a stack of celebrities, including Leonardo Di Caprio, Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey, who was sat in the Djokovic box.
Medvedev beat Djokovic in the 2021 final to deny the Serb the calendar-year Grand Slam but from the first point of the match – a 19-shot rally – it was clear that Djokovic had history on his mind.
The Serb looked under pressure at 30-30 in his opening service game but he hit two straight aces to hold and then, in the next game, after a Medvedev double-fault, he hit a backhand winner and then sealed an early break when the Russian missed from the baseline. Djokovic held quickly to 3-0 before Medvedev got himself on the board with a hold of his own.
Djokovic was mixing things up well, serving and volleying at times to take advantage of Medvedev’s return position, which was close to the back fence. The two men played out a 37-shot rally in the fifth game and after Medvedev saved two set points on his own serve at 5-2 down, they played another epic but Djokovic eased through his service game to take the first set.
Medvedev hits back, has set point, but can’t take it
Djokovic ripped through his first three service games in the second set but Medvedev had to work enormously hard to hold on to his own service games.
The Russian was looking confused at times, unsure of his shot selection, while he was also continually burned on the deuce court when Djokovic served and volleyed. The Serb’s net play was near faultless and he constantly went to the serve and volley, winning them with ease thanks to Medvedev’s refusal to change his ultra-deep court position.
Midway through the set, though, Djokovic suddenly began to look tired. After one 31-shot rally, the 36-year-old fell over on to the court, and then repeated the action a couple of fames later. Medvedev sensed his chances and while Djokovic tried to shorten the points, Medvedev looked to extend them.
Both men saved a break point as games stayed on serve to 4-4 but Medvedev, serving first, had some scoreboard momentum and began to exert some pressure. Djokovic upped his aggression and power on his groundstrokes but it was clear he was beginning to fatigue.
Serving at 5-6, Djokovic double faulted twice to allow Medvedev back to deuce before a brilliant backhand from the Russian down the line forced a first set point. Djokovic served and volleyed again but Medvedev had the court open down the line on the pas, only to go crosscourt, straight to Djokovic.
The Serb somehow held on after a 12-minute game to force a tiebreak. Medvedev led 3-1 but Djokovic recovered to lead 4-3. A brilliant drop shot – off a drop shot of Djokovic – put Medvedev up 5-4 but Djokovic levelled with a good backhand, served and volleyed to go up 6-5 and then a backhand in the net from Medvedev gave Djokovic the set after a mammoth one hour, 44 minutes.
Medvedev blows over, Djokovic stays calm to win title
Djokovic took a bathroom break – as Medvedev had at the end of the second – while the Russian had treatment for what looked like a tight left shoulder.
And the break seemed to do Djokovic more good as he held serve easily in his first two service games before breaking Medvedev for 3-1, his opponent ranting in the direction of his box. But Djokovic then coughed up a double fault and a poor backhand gave Medvedev the break back.
That was Medvedev’s chance but he fluffed it as he handed the break straight back, putting a backhand in the net. Now Djokovic looked fresher than he had done at the start of the match, the finishing line almost in sight.
After extending his lead to 5-2, Djokovic had Medvedev at 15-30 but the Russian came through that game to at least ask Djokovic to serve it out. For the first time, Medvedev found a pass off the Djokovic serve and volley to win the first point.
Djokovic led 30-15 but double-faulted, just to add to the tension. But he moved to match point and then won it when Medvedev found the net with a forehand.
“Novak, I feel like I have not a bad career with 20 titles, and you have 24 slams, wow,” Medvedev said.
“It’s our third final, maybe not the last. You (Djokovic) are probably going to be in more. I mean, when are you going to slow down a bit?”