US Open: Cramping Medvedev was close to breakdown before seeing off Djokovic, references FIFA celebration

By Sports Desk September 12, 2021

Daniil Medvedev was relieved to close out his first grand slam title at the US Open after revealing he was cramping in his quest to conquer Novak Djokovic.

Medvedev blitzed world number one and 20-time major champion Djokovic 6-4 6-4 6-4 in the men's final at Flushing Meadows on Sunday.

Djokovic's bid to become just the third man and first since Rod Laver in 1969 to claim a calendar Grand Slam, and to surpass Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most major men's titles, was emphatically ended by Medvedev.

Medvedev fired down 16 aces and hit 38 winners in a ruthless display on Arthur Ashe Stadium. However, the second seed conceded he was worried at the end of the third set as he tried to see off Djokovic.

Russian star Medvedev double-faulted twice in succession when his first championship point arrived and gave back one of those breaks to Djokovic, who closed to 5-4. But the former came out to serve again and again served a double on a championship point, though he had another in store and the Serb netted on the backhand.

"I definitely had it [pressure]," Medvedev – who lost to Djokovic in the 2021 Australian Open final, having gone down to Nadal in the 2019 US Open showpiece – told reporters. "I started cramping at 5-3, I think because of the pressure at 5-2 where I had match points, I didn't make it. My legs were gone after 5-3. At 5-4, left leg, I almost couldn't walk. If you really look 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.

"Again, 40-15, that's two match points. I was like, C'mon, go for an ace, just try to make it. I had a huge double-fault. Second one was like in the middle of the net. Okay, I have one more. Just try to make a first serve. I made it and I'm really happy."

Medvedev became the first Russian man to win a grand slam since Marat Safin at the 2005 Australian Open.

The 25-year-old also became the ninth different men's champion of the last 14 years in New York, including first-time major winners Dominic Thiem, Marin Cilic, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro. During the same time, the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon have each been claimed by four different men.

Medvedev – the second player since Ivan Lendl in 1987 to lose just one set en route to the men's US Open crown after Nadal in 2010 – is the fifth player to clinch a slam final against Djokovic.

He is also the fourth player with four or more wins over Djokovic as world number one, after Nadal (nine), Federer (five) and Murray (five).

"It definitely makes it sweeter [beating a world number one for first major trophy]," Medvedev said. "I mean, a grand slam is a grand slam. I would win it against Botic [Van de Zandschulp] in the final, probably I would be same happy.

"For the confidence and for my future career, knowing that I beat somebody who was 27-0 in a year in grand slams, I lost to him in Australia, he was going for huge history, and knowing that I managed to stop him it definitely makes it sweeter and brings me confidence for what is to come on hard courts so far, but let's see about other surfaces."

Medvedev was also asked about his celebration – the 13-time ATP Tour champion fell to the court after vanquishing Djokovic, with his eyes closed and tongue out.

It was in reference to FIFA's video game and the "dead fish" celebration.

"I like to play FIFA," he said. "I like to play PlayStation. It's called the dead fish celebration. If you know your opponent when you play FIFA, many times you're going to do this. You're going to score a goal, you're up 5-0, you do this one.

"I talked to the guys in the locker, they're young guys, super chill guys. They play FIFA. They were like, That's legendary. Everybody who I saw who plays FIFA thinks that's legendary. That's how I wanted to make it.

"Again, it's not because I want to be on the newspaper talking about FIFA celebration or whatever. I don't care. But I wanted to make it special for people to love, for my friends to love who I play FIFA with. I knew I'm going to make it. I got hurt a little bit. It's not easy to make it on hard courts. I got hurt a little bit, but I'm happy I made it legendary for myself."

Related items

  • Insigne: Toronto move motivated by need for fresh challenge Insigne: Toronto move motivated by need for fresh challenge

    Lorenzo Insigne says his move to Major League Soccer side Toronto FC came about due to his need for a new challenge after spending his entire career with Napoli.

    The Italy international agreed to join Toronto in January, going on to finish the 2021-22 Serie A season with 11 goals in 32 appearances for Luciano Spalletti's Napoli before heading to Canada.

    Insigne scored 122 goals in 434 appearances for his hometown club, a tally which is only bettered by Dries Mertens (148) and represents seven goals more than the late, great Diego Maradona netted for the Partenopei (115).

    Speaking at his first news conference in Toronto, Insigne refuted the suggestion that MLS represented a step down for a player of his quality.

    Asked whether he had been presented with other options, Insigne said: "I didn't receive any [other] offers at that time. It was very early when I first met the president, and I still had my contract with Napoli. I could have stayed in Europe. 

    "I'm 31, so I still have many years in front of me, but I wanted to choose happiness and the wellbeing of my family. 

    "As I mentioned before, I won a lot with Napoli, and I lost as well. But I wanted a change and more importantly, a challenge, either in another European club or here in North America. 

    "I've heard people saying that soccer in North America is not real soccer, but I've seen it and it's not true. 

    "It is a challenge because of the move, but I'm really grateful to the opportunity the president gave me and the whole organisation has given me, and the love and the effort that everybody is putting into this. I'm very thankful, and I want to repay the love with my performances during the season."

    Insigne joins a team that sits 11th in the Eastern Conference, but he is already targeting silverware.

    "I am very happy to be here. This is a big and new adventure for me and my family, this is the first time we have been away from Napoli," he said.

    "But it was a great choice, because when I first met the president, he talked to me about Toronto as a city and especially about the team. 

    "He struck me as a really great person, and the project that he explained to me about the team stuck with me.

    "I made the decision, not for the money, but for a new life for my family and my kids, and for their wellbeing. The project is certainly a challenge, and I would like to be part of winning the championship.

    "I played for Napoli for 10 years and for the Italian national team, winning the Euros. So, I don't have any problem with being under pressure, and I'd rather have my actions speak for me on the pitch."

  • Wimbledon: Swiatek makes it 36 wins on the bounce despite topsy-turvy second set Wimbledon: Swiatek makes it 36 wins on the bounce despite topsy-turvy second set

    Iga Swiatek is through to the second round at Wimbledon thanks to a straight-sets defeat of Jana Fett on Tuesday.

    While the top seed did not have it all her own way in the second set, she ultimately had more than enough to see off Fett 6-0 6-3.

    All early signs pointed to a comfortable win for Swiatek as world number 252 Fett looked nervous, committing 14 unforced errors to her opponent's four in the first set.

    As such, Swiatek's first-set bagel arrived with the Pole barely breaking a sweat, but her level dropped in the second and allowed Fett a foothold.

    Fett broke to love in the first game of the second set, and although Swiatek instantly hit back, the Croatian then broke again before managing to consolidate and go 3-1 up.

    But she passed up five break points as Swiatek began to build her way back, and the world number one was soon a break to the good, with Fett's 23 unforced errors, which included nine double faults, proving her downfall.

    A sloppy return from Fett gave Swiatek match point, and the former put her next shot straight into the net as the favourite became the first female player since Martina Hingis in 1997 to win 36 successive matches.

    Data slam: Swiatek bagels again

    Remarkably, Swiatek's first-set bagel was her 17th of the season. This century, only Serena Williams (25 in 2013) and Kim Clijsters (18 in 2003) have managed more in a single year.

    While Fett made life a little trickier in the second, the nature of Swiatek's first-set performance almost made victory a formality and few would bet against her repeating her bagel feat in the second round.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Swiatek – 10/15
    Fett – 7/23

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Swiatek – 0/3
    Fett – 1/9

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Swiatek – 6/10
    Fett – 2/8

  • England white-ball captain Morgan retires from international cricket England white-ball captain Morgan retires from international cricket

    England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan has announced his retirement from international cricket and Jos Buttler is expected to replace him as skipper.

    Morgan has become one of England's greatest leaders after being appointed in 2014, leading the side to a first World Cup triumph in the 50-over format with a dramatic victory over New Zealand in the 2019 final at Lord's.

    The 35-year-old also took England to the T20 World Cup final in 2016 and the semi-finals five years later.

    However, Morgan has struggled with the bat in recent months, twice falling without scoring in a 3-0 ODI series whitewash of the Netherlands last week before missing the final match of the series due to injury.

    The left-handed batter has passed 50 just once in his past eight ODIs since scoring 106 against his country of birth Ireland in February 2020.

    Morgan repeatedly suggested he would step down from his role if he felt he was not contributing with the bat and he confirmed on Tuesday that his international career is over.

    "After careful deliberation and consideration, I am here to announce my retirement from international cricket with immediate effect," Morgan said in a statement issued on the England and Wales Cricket Board's website.

    "To call time on what has been without doubt the most enjoyable and rewarding chapter of my career hasn't been an easy decision, but I believe now is the right time to do so, both for me, personally, and for both England white-ball sides I have led to this point.

    "I am hugely proud of what I have achieved as a player and captain, but the things I will cherish and remember the most are the memories I made with some of the greatest people I know along the way.

    "I have been lucky enough to play in two World Cup winning teams, but I believe the future for England's white-ball teams is brighter than ever. We have more experience, more strength and more depth than ever before. I look forward to watching on with a huge level of excitement."

    Rob Key, managing director of England men's cricket, added: "On behalf of the ECB and everyone involved in cricket, I'd like to thank Eoin Morgan for his outstanding contribution to the game.

    "It will be wrong to think Eoin's legacy was just winning the World Cup in 2019; it is far greater than that.

    "As with all great players and leaders, he has changed the way the game has been played, and he has changed the way an entire generation and generations to come will play this form of the game. His legacy within the game will be felt for many years to come.

    "He is, without question, the best leader I have seen. I wish him well in the next chapter of his career."

    Buttler stepped up in the absence of Morgan for the final ODI against Netherlands and is now expected to take the job on a permanent basis.

    Wicketkeeper-batter faces a busy start to his reign, with Matthew Mott's side facing South Africa and India three-match T20I and ODI series during the next month.

    England head to Australia for three T20Is in October before the T20 World Cup starts later in the month Down Under.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.