Medvedev: ‘You Never Know If You’re Going to Achieve It’
Each maiden major title opportunity missed only compounds the pressure the next time a final rolls around. Only this time, he knew the burden of expectation was far greater on his opponent with such a historic achievement at stake.
Djokovic stood one match from completing the Grand Slam. The last time the pair had squared off at a major championship, the Serbian had breezed past Medvedev in straight sets in this year’s Australian Open final.
Third time round, Medvedev was up to the task. Two years after his five-set defeat in his first Grand Slam final against Rafael Nadal, the second seed denied Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 13, 2021
“You never know if you're going to achieve it in your career. Again I was always saying, ‘If I don't, I just want to know that I did my best to do it’,” Medvedev said. “That's my first Grand Slam. I don't know how I'm going to feel if I win a second one or third one. That's my first one, so I'm really happy.
“It means a lot to me… After winning in Canada, I knew I had Cincinnati next to try to prepare well for US Open, so I couldn't even celebrate in a way. I needed to get on the plane and get ready for my first round.
“Here I know I don't have anything coming soon… so I know how to celebrate. Russians know how to celebrate (smiling). 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.”
Medvedev trailed his ATP Head2Head against Djokovic 3-5 but had claimed a straight-sets result in the Nitto ATP Finals last year. He admitted the preparations ahead of a Djokovic showdown were unlike those for any other opponent.
“We always talk tactics before the match with my coach, the day before. Usually takes five, 10 minutes, some small things. Probably where I'm going to serve, what I'm going to do during the points,” Medvedev said.
“When it's against Novak, it took like probably 30 minutes. Why? Because … he's so good that every match is different. He changes his tactics, he changes his approach… Was he at his best? Maybe not today.
“He had a lot of pressure. I had a lot of pressure, too… I knew I cannot give him easy serves because that's what he likes. So that was the plan. Because of the confidence in a lot of tight moments, I managed to do it well.”
Medvedev became the first man since Rafael Nadal in 2010 and the second since Ivan Lendl in 1987 to drop just one set en route to the US Open title. He became the ninth different US Open men’s singles champion in the past 14 years and the fifth in the period to land their first at Flushing Meadows after Juan Martin del Potro, Andy Murray, Marin Cilic and Dominic Thiem.
The 26-year-old said he would have felt just as elated regardless of who he had beaten for his first Grand Slam title. But to do it against the World No. 1, who stood to emulate Rod Laver’s Grand Slam from 1969, was not lost on him.
“I do feel sorry for Novak because I cannot imagine what he feels. I don't know this feeling. It definitely makes it sweeter I mean, a Grand Slam is a Grand Slam,” Medvedev said.
“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. It brings me confidence for what is to come on hard courts so far, but let's see about other surfaces.”