Medvedev overcomes pressure, Djokovic to win U.S. Open

Sep 12, 2021, 6:23 AM | Updated: 6:54 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Daniil Medvedev had outplayed the man he considers the best ever in tennis for about two hours. Then it was time to finish off Novak Djokovic.

That’s when Medvedev’s serve and his body started to falter. He double-faulted on his first match point. He did the same thing on his next one while trying to end Djokovic’s quest for a calendar-year Grand Slam.

“Second one was like in the middle of the net,” Medvedev said.

Eventually, he overcame the pressure and his opponent, beating Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday in the U.S. Open for his first Grand Slam title.

Medvedev had lost both previous times he played in a major final, with Djokovic beating him in straight sets this year at the Australian Open.

“After the final in Australia, we had the feeling that Daniil didn’t have this fire that can help your game to be much stronger, especially against a player like Novak,” said Gilles Cervara, Medvedev’s coach. “So this had to change, for sure, to play this final at another level.

“Our feeling yesterday and today was that he was ready to compete and to be at high level.”

The Russian has been there for a while, especially on hard courts. He leads all men’s players in wins and titles on that surface since 2018 and had reached the U.S. Open semifinals in each of the last three years.

At his best, he is as good as anyone on a hard court — and way better than Djokovic on Sunday.

“I mean, he was hitting his spots very well,” Djokovic said. “He came out very determined on the court. You could feel that he was just at (the) highest of his abilities in every shot.”

Especially on his serve, which Cervara felt hadn’t been good enough this summer. Medvedev had 16 aces and put constant pressure on Djokovic with his serve, winning 42 of 52 points on first serve.

“He served very good today,” Cervara said. “Maybe not at the end, but with the pressure, the tension, it’s a bit different.”

Medvedev took a long pause between serves to wait out some fan noise on his first match point while leading 5-3. He didn’t think the crowd was trying to heckle them, he figured the fans just wanted to see Djokovic prolong the match.

The No. 1 player did, then held to cut it to 5-4.

“My legs were gone after 5-3. At 5-4, left leg, I almost couldn’t walk,” Medvedev said. “If you really look at the replay, when I walked to the towel, my leg was just going behind. I was trying not to show it. If Novak feels it, it’s not good.”

The next match point produced another sloppy serve before Medvedev banged one in at 129 mph that Djokovic couldn’t get back into play.

Medvedev then fell slowly and awkwardly to the court, explaining that that move was a nod to a goal celebration in a soccer video game.

His real celebration was still to come.

“Russians know how to celebrate,” Medvedev said. “Hopefully, I will not get in the news. If I (do), it’s going to be in a good way. But I’m going to definitely celebrate the next few days.”

___

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE -LeBron James speaks at the opening ceremony for the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, Monday, ...
Associated Press

LeBron’s off-court legacy complements his basketball success

Mya Smiley is a student at the University of Akron thanks to an assist from LeBron James, and she is determined upon graduation to become a social worker that helps foster kids. Her education and career path would not have been possible, the sophomore says, were it not for a scholarship and counseling that she […]
1 day ago
Saint Mary's head coach Randy Bennett, center, is congratulated by his players after notching his 5...
Associated Press

Bennett earns 500th win as No. 18 Saint Mary’s beats USF

MORAGA, Calif. (AP) — Randy Bennett earned his 500th win as Saint Mary’s coach when the 18th-ranked Gaels beat San Francisco 68-59 on Thursday night for their 11th straight victory. Alex Ducas had 18 points and Aidan Mahaney scored 13 of his 17 in the second half to lead the Gaels (20-4, 9-0 West Coast […]
1 day ago
Los Angeles Clippers' Nicolas Batum fouls Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo during the first h...
Associated Press

Antetokounmpo scores 54 points, Bucks beat Clippers 106-105

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo celebrated his most famous 50-point performance by ordering 50 chicken nuggets at a Chick-fil-A drive-through the next day. He already has an idea how to commemorate reaching that plateau for the third time in the last month. Antetokounmpo scored 20 of his 54 points in the fourth quarter and the […]
1 day ago
Duke coach Kara Lawson directs the team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game ag...
Associated Press

Duke women’s coach Lawson says men’s ball used vs. FSU

Duke coach Kara Lawson said her team played with a men’s basketball for the first half of a loss to Florida State last Sunday. The 16th-ranked Blue Devils lost to the Seminoles 70-57 in Tallahassee, Florida — the team’s second Atlantic Coast Conference loss of the season. After her team beat Pittsburgh 53-44 on Thursday, […]
1 day ago
Golden State Warriors center James Wiseman, front, pulls in a rebound in front of Denver Nuggets fo...
Associated Press

Murray, Jokic lead charge as Nuggets beat Warriors 134-117

DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray just nodded when asked if this might be the most confident he’s ever been. Nothing else really needed to be said. Murray had 33 points and Nikola Jokic recorded his 17th triple-double of the season, leading the Denver Nuggets to a 134-117 win over the short-handed Golden State Warriors on […]
1 day ago
Dallas Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26) battles New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. ...
Associated Press

Mavs hang on after Doncic hurt, hand Pels 10th straight loss

DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas Mavericks barely held on after leading by 27 points when Luka Doncic exited the game with a right heel injury on a hard fall. The New Orleans Pelicans thought their one chance to finish the rally and end a long losing streak was taken away by the officials, who acknowledged […]
1 day ago
Medvedev overcomes pressure, Djokovic to win U.S. Open