US Open: Djokovic sees Grand Slam dream scuppered as Medvedev triumphs in New York

By Sports Desk September 12, 2021

Novak Djokovic fell agonisingly short of a clean sweep of this year's majors as Daniil Medvedev scored a sensational victory in the US Open final.

After scooping the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles, Djokovic arrived in New York in pursuit of the full set, but a 6-4 6-4 6-4 defeat meant the calendar Grand Slam dream died.

Rod Laver, the last man to achieve that feat in singles, back in 1969, was in the crowd to witness what most anticipated would be a momentous moment in tennis history. Instead, it was momentous for Medvedev, the Russian finally a champion at the highest level.

It means Djokovic remains tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 slam titles, the 34-year-old being served notice here that a new generation is rising, headed by world number two Medvedev.

 It was a sizzling afternoon in New York, the temperature taking a leap a day on from Emma Raducanu's triumph in the women's final, and Djokovic was feeling the heat from the early moments.

Medvedev broke in the first game against a nervy and erratic opponent. Djokovic had said before stepping on court that he hoped to bring the "best version of myself" and promised he was "ready for the battle", but he was running on close to empty at times here.

Djokovic had dropped the opening set in the previous four rounds in this US Open run, winning three times in four sets and once in five during that sequence. He came into this match having spent five hours and 35 minutes longer on court than Medvedev, an unusually scenic route through the rounds for the top seed. And those extra miles in his legs showed, Medvedev swiftly a set ahead, sealing the opener with an ace.

Djokovic had won 10 of 10 matches in slams this year after losing the opening set. No man has ever won a slam after losing five first sets in the same tournament, the ATP said. That still holds true.

The Serbian had 0-40 on the Medvedev serve in the second game of the second set, but five points in a row from the man from Moscow felt like a bodyblow, and in the fourth game Djokovic's frustration spilled over, brutally smashing his racket three times against the ground.

Djokovic was landing only 50 per of first serves in court, and when he hit a feeble backhand into the net, Medvedev had two break points. He took the second of those when Djokovic looped a volley long, then held to love to lead 4-2.

On his third set point, Medvedev gave Djokovic a chance to make a passing shot, but the 34-year-old went wide. At two sets up, Medvedev may have had thoughts of Stefanos Tsitsipas losing from such a lead against Djokovic in the Roland Garros final, but this time Djokovic was fried.

He raced out to a double break and a 4-0 lead in the third set, yet double-faulted twice in succession when his first championship point arrived and gave back one of those breaks. Djokovic closed to 5-4, the New York crowd roared and the man who rarely feels loved by tennis crowds began to well up. Medvedev came out to serve again and again served a double on a championship point, but he had another in store and Djokovic netted on the backhand.

For the first time since 1990, when Pete Sampras and Gabriela Sabatini reigned over the rest, the US Open has a pair of first-time grand slam winners as its singles champion, with rookie Raducanu joined by the finished article in Medvedev.

In an extraordinary year for Djokovic, this was a lousy day.

Related items

  • Manchester City boss Guardiola reaches 500 Premier League points in record time Manchester City boss Guardiola reaches 500 Premier League points in record time

    Pep Guardiola became the fastest manager in Premier League history to accrue 500 points with Manchester City's 1-1 draw against Southampton on Saturday.

    The Catalan coach, who first took charge of City in August 2016, reached the milestone figure in 213 matches – 18 fewer than previous quickest Jose Mourinho.

    Jurgen Klopp is next on the list having reached 500 points in 236 games with Liverpool, while legendary Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson needed 242 matches to do so.

    Arsene Wenger (249 games) completes the top five, with Rafael Benitez (267), David Moyes (340), Martin O'Neill (351), Mark Hughes (367), Sam Allardyce (386), Harry Redknapp (392) and Steve Bruce (441) also members of the 500 club.

    City have taken more points against Arsenal (34) than any other opponent under Guardiola, followed by Burnley, West Ham (both 31), Leicester City and Watford (both 27).

    Reigning Premier League champions City have put together four runs of 12-plus victories in the competition in Guardiola's five-and-a-half-year tenure, the most recent of which came to an end with their draw against Southampton.

    The Citizens dropped points for the first time in 13 matches in a run stretching back to a 2-0 home loss against Crystal Palace on October 30, leaving them 12 points clear of second-placed Liverpool having played two games more.

    Kyle Walker-Peters fired Southampton into an early lead with a sensational outside-of-the-boot strike – just the third first-half goal City have conceded in the league this term – but the visitors hit back through Aymeric Laporte's header.

    Despite his side's losing run coming to an end, Guardiola was pleased with their display at St Mary's Stadium.

    "We played really well. Unfortunately, in the first half we conceded a goal, but I think this was one of our best performances of the season, by far," he told Sky Sports.

    "They were incredibly organised and this is one of the best performances we played against them. Yes, the result was not good, but in terms of performance and the way we played, it was excellent.

    "We played better than in the Arsenal game, when we won, and today we drew. Sometimes you deserve it and you don't win, but the way we played here was excellent.

    "Southampton are a really good team. They are organised, they play 4-4-2, long balls, good pace in counter-attack, good build up. But we were brilliant today.

    "Why should we lose belief in what we have done? It was a good performance. We are going to drop points, but the way we behave is very good."

    Liverpool could move to within six points of City should they win their games in hand, while the sides still have to meet at the Etihad Stadium in April.

    "People will say the Premier League race is not over and that is good for this side," Guardiola added. "We have many tough games ahead of us, but we will try to behave until the end.

    "I would like to have a 40-point lead ahead of Liverpool, but that is not possible in January. I didn't expect to have this lead, but now we will rest and come back as best as possible."

  • Southampton 1-1 Manchester City: Unlucky 13 for leaders as winning run comes to an end Southampton 1-1 Manchester City: Unlucky 13 for leaders as winning run comes to an end

    Manchester City's 12-match winning run in the Premier League came to an end with a 1-1 draw against Southampton at St Mary's Stadium on Saturday. 

    The runaway league leaders conceded a first-half goal for just the third time this season through Kyle Walker-Peters' sublime finish on the half-volley after seven minutes.

    Southampton had an Armando Broja goal ruled out for offside and continued to pose a threat, though City dug deep and levelled through Aymeric Laporte's 65th-minute header.

    City dominated possession and looked the more likely side to claim all three points, but they failed to do so in a league game for the first time since October 13.

    Walker-Peters gave Southampton a shock early lead with his first Premier League goal after carrying the ball down the right, exchanging passes with Nathan Redmond and sending a controlled outside-of-the-boot strike away from Ederson.

    Having survived another scare when Broja had a goal chalked off, City showed signs of life and would have been level before half-time if not for a fine close-range save from Fraser Forster to deny Raheem Sterling, who had plenty of the goal to aim for.

    The lively Broja headed against the post from a couple of yards out and Jan Bednarek skewed the follow-up off target, while Rodri skimmed the top of the crossbar at the other end as the game opened up.

    Southampton had conceded in each of their last 10 league matches, however, and they were once again undone by a set-piece as Laporte got away from his marker and guided home Kevin De Bruyne's free-kick. 

    That sparked a City onslaught, with De Bruyne hitting the post from range and having a penalty appeal rejected, but Southampton held on to make it two points from their two meetings with the champions this term.

  • Gambler Rangnick hits jackpot thanks to Man Utd hero Rashford Gambler Rangnick hits jackpot thanks to Man Utd hero Rashford

    Ralf Rangnick admitted he took a punt that paid off after Manchester United's super-subs combined for a priceless winner against West Ham.

    United's German interim boss sent on forwards Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial to join Cristiano Ronaldo in attack, and that quartet conjured a dramatic goal three minutes into stoppage time.

    Rashford tucked in from close range after Ronaldo fed Martial, who relayed the ball to Cavani, with the Uruguayan narrowly beating the offside line before delivering the perfect low cross.

    After huffing and puffing without reward until that point, United could celebrate and the Old Trafford crowd was jubilant as the home side pinched a 1-0 win that lifts them to fourth place, at least for a short while, in the Premier League. Arsenal and Tottenham have the chance to jump ahead of United on Sunday.

    United have scored eight goals via substitutes in the Premier League this season, said Opta, more than any other team. Old habits die hard.

    Rashford's goal also meant that for the second time this season, West Ham were denied a point by a late United winner from a substitute, with Jesse Lingard's 89th-minute effort having decided the London Stadium tussle between the teams in September.

    On that previous occasion, West Ham were thrown a lifeline when Luke Shaw handled and they were awarded a penalty, only for more substitute drama to follow. Mark Noble was sent from the bench to take the spot-kick, but the specialist missed.

    This time, the goal came too late for any similar drama to follow.

    "It couldn't have been better than that, if you score in the last second of the game. It was amazing," Rangnick told MUTV.

    "Enormous important win and physically a great performance.

    "I'm extremely happy for the boys. They did it, and we had to take some risks in the last 15 minutes.

    "We played almost with four strikers in a 4-2-4, but we knew we had to win that game and that's why we decided to take that risk."

    Rashford has been directly involved in more goals against West Ham in all competitions than he has against any other side at club level (eight – four goals, four assists).

    He has hit four winners in the 90th minute or stoppage time in his United career, which is twice as many as any other Red Devils player in the Premier League era.

    United have now won 21 of their 26 Premier League home games against West Ham (D3 L2) and are unbeaten in their last 14 against them at Old Trafford since a 1-0 loss in May 2007.

    Another notable detail is that Saturday's hosts have only lost once in their last 10 Premier League games (W6 D3). This was their first clean sheet in the competition in six matches, another plus for Rangnick as United rebuild in the post-Ole Gunnar Solskjaer months.

    All the positives aside, there were still elements that disappointed Rangnick in United's display, and it had been shaping up as a game to forget before the late twist.

    After a win at Brentford on Wednesday, United looked flat at times against West Ham, who almost snatched the lead before Rashford's intervention when Tomas Soucek headed just wide.

    "We didn't always find the right solutions in possession of the ball, especially in the final third of the game," Rangnick said. "But the way we played defensively after having played only three days ago at Brentford, I was really impressed by the team.

    "I'm still not quite happy the way that we play in possession of the ball, so this will have to be the next step in the next couple of weeks."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.