September 13, 2021
Daniil Medvedev clearly didn’t read the script at Flushing Meadows as he defeated Novak Djokovic with relative ease.
But the loser on the night still claimed he was the happiest man alive after receiving so much love from the huge New York crowd.
In fact Djokovic was in tears even before the end of the match because he was so moved.
Medvedev’s 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory leaves the race to be called the greatest of all time deliciously poised.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic are all tied on twenty Grand Slam titles.
It means the 2022 tennis calendar could be played out against an even more dramatic and historic backdrop.
Wimbledon 2022 will be all about that race for greatness and above all US Open winner Emma Raducanu.
Can you imagine the reception Britain’s Raducanu will enjoy on Centre Court at her home Slam?
It could be one of sport’s most magical moments.
The new superstar’s amazing achievement means the clamour to watch big-time tennis in Britain will be greater than ever.
Will Wimbledon 2022 also provide the stage for reigning champion Djokovic to cement his place above his fellow greats at last?
We shall see. It’s going to be a mouth-watering event come what may.
Medvedev is already calling Djokovic the greatest of all time after his own moment of triumph in New York.
Federer and Nadal may yet have their say about the eventual outcome.
And let’s not forget that Andy Murray is still going strong and could make Wimbledon 2022 his final farewell.
The first two Slams of 2022 will set the scene nicely.
We shall see whether Djokovic prevails in Melbourne or Nadal can hit back in Paris.
But the great race may all boil down to Wimbledon once more.
We thought the long and incredible battle for supremacy might be over this morning.
Djokovic was favourite to edge ahead of his rivals with a record twenty-first Slam. A Calendar Slam beckoned too.
But the pressure associated with taking every major in a single calendar year proved too much.
Instead Medvedev came out with all guns blazing.
When Novak had five chances to break early in the second set he couldn’t deliver.
The tennis gods did seem to be working against him for some reason.
An overrule from the umpire’s chair and a distracting sound on the public address system complicated matters.
Tiny margins and surprising mistakes disrupted the expected fightback.
Instead of 3-1 to Djokovic it was soon 2-2 in that second set. Novak exploded at the perceived injustice of it all.
He had already come close to firing a tennis ball angrily towards an approaching ball girl, who stopped nervously in her tracks.
Moments later Novak was seen smashing his racquet in frustration and fury.
Perhaps his energy levels were too depleted after that epic five-setter against Alexander Zverev earlier in the tournament.
The older man’s movement certainly wasn’t quite as magical as usual in the final.
Maybe Novak already knew he wasn’t going to be able to turn this showpiece around against a rampant Medvedev.
The outcome was even more of a surprise because Djokovic had humbled Medvedev so thoroughly in the Australian Open final at the start of the year.
This time there was a reversal of roles between the two protagonists.
Djokovic did try hard to turn the tide and at 2-5 in the third he staged a mini-recovery.
As Medvedev prepared to serve for the match at 5-4, thousands of Djokovic supporters in the crowd sent him wave after wave of love and encouragement.
Novak cried into his towel when he heard the ovation. Love is what he has always craved, just as much as all those titles over the years.
Now at last the love was there. And Djokovic fought the final moments with tears in his eyes.
Medvedev wasn’t about to submit to sentimentality and the noisy demands for at least another set, though.
He had waited so long for his first Grand Slam victory.
He had come so very close against Rafael Nadal at the same venue back in 2019.
Now at last the trophy belonged to Medvedev.
And yet the likeable Russian could only think of his hero instead of his own impressive breakthrough.
Medvedev said to Novak: ‘I’ve never said this before but I think you are the greatest of all time.’
Djokovic said to the crowd: ‘My heart is filled with joy and I’m the happiest man alive because of what you have given me.’
And this feels like a fitting time to reflect upon what the US Open has given us.
Emma Raducanu pulled off one of the greatest sporting shocks in history.
Daniil Medvedev kept the race for all-time greatness fascinatingly balanced.
Britain’s Joe Salisbury won two doubles titles.
We really couldn’t have asked for more.
Now the Grand Slam show moves into 2022.
And Wimbledon 2022 will surely be the greatest of all those events.
Will you be coming to join us?