US Open: Djokovic salutes Medvedev, an 'amazing' new king of New York

By Sports Desk September 12, 2021

Novak Djokovic set aside the deep disappointment of missing out on the calendar Grand Slam by backing new US Open champion Daniil Medvedev to be a multiple major winner.

World number one and 20-time slam champion Djokovic had strung together a stunning run of wins at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, and he was a red-hot favourite to complete the set in New York.

A clean sweep of all four slams in a year had not been achieved since Rod Laver won the lot in 1969, and the great Australian was in the crowd as history appeared to beckon on Sunday.

Medvedev had other ideas and swept to a 6-4 6-4 6-4 win in two hours, 16 minutes, collecting his first title at this level but perhaps the first of many.

The world number two was tipped by a number of experts, including former world number one Jim Courier, to take the Flushing Meadows glory, and he came good as a flagging Djokovic paid the price for taking a circuitous route to the final.

Top seed Djokovic dropped the opening set of each of his matches from the third round onwards, spending more than five hours more on court than Medvedev on the way through the draw.

Speaking at the trophy presentation, Djokovic said: "I'd like to start off by saying congratulations to Daniil. Amazing. Amazing match, amazing tournament. If there is anyone that deserves a grand slam title now, it's you, so well done.

"You're one of the greatest guys on the tour. We get along very well. I wish you many more grand slams, many more majors to follow. I'm sure you will be on this stage in the future again."

Djokovic had appeared to well up before the final game of the match, on what was an emotional day for the Serb superstar.

He had demolished a racket in the second set as his rage grew, but come the end of the match he was looking to be sanguine.

Rather than airing his certain sense of frustration at falling just short of such a rare feat as a calendar Grand Slam, Djokovic looked for the positives.

And there was one that stood out, with the man who has often felt unloved by tennis crowds expressing his joy at the New York spectators showing him plenty of affection.

They had turned out in the hope of witnessing a famous moment in sporting history, which may have partly explained their raucous rallying behind the 34-year-old.

"I was thinking in both scenarios, kind of visualising myself standing here in front of you guys and what would I say," Djokovic told the crowd.

"I would like to say tonight that even though I have not won the match my heart is filled with joy and I am the happiest man alive, because you guys helped me feel very special on the court.

"You guys touch my soul. I've never felt like this in New York, I've never felt like this. Thank you so much for your support, everything you have done tonight for me. I love you and I'll see you soon."

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  • Conflicted Fritz thinks there would be no 'harm' in Djokovic competing at the US Open Conflicted Fritz thinks there would be no 'harm' in Djokovic competing at the US Open

    Taylor Fritz believes there would be no "harm" in Novak Djokovic competing at the US Open, although the American admits he is conflicted about whether he should be allowed.

    Wimbledon champion Djokovic has his route to Flushing Meadows blocked by red tape at present, with the United States refusing to allow unvaccinated foreign visitors to enter the country.

    US tennis authorities have pledged to adhere to government rulings surrounding COVID-19 protocols, despite including Djokovic on their entry list.

    For Djokovic to be allowed into the United States, it appears he would require a change of policy from law-makers, or he would have to be considered suitable for an exemption.

    Among those who would be eligible for such an exemption are "persons whose entry would be in the national interest".

    With 21 grand slam titles, Djokovic sits second on the men's all-time list behind Rafael Nadal, who has 22 victories at the majors. 

    And Fritz, ranked 13th in the world, said that while the situation is complicated, there is part of him that thinks Djokovic should be allowed to take part in the competition that starts in under a fortnight.

    "It's tough," he said. "I think on one side of it, I think it's tough to make certain exceptions to the rules for certain people.

    "I don't know how I feel about that, but then, at the same time, we're not the most COVID-safe country in general with how we are doing things.

    "So it does seem like, what's the harm of letting the best player in the world come play the US Open?

    "But like I said, at the same time, it's conflicting, because I don't know how I feel about making special exceptions just for one person because of who they are.

    "So I see both sides of the argument, to be honest. It's tough to differentiate, obviously. It's good for every player if Novak is not in the draw."

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