Nadal overcame his Russian rival 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 in four hours and 49 minutes to clinch the coveted title, which leaves him only one Grand Slam triumph behind Switzerland’s Roger Federer’s all-time record of 20 majors.
“It was an amazing final,” the 33-year-old Nadal said as he received the trophy. “Daniil is only 23 years old and the way he was able to fight and change the rhythm of the match was amazing. He will have many more opportunities like this.”
“This victory is so important for me,” he added, “especially as the match became more and more difficult.”
Fighting back tears, Nadal said he was able to hold his nerves. “They were so high. It was a crazy match and I’m just very emotional.”
“Because of the crowd, I was fighting like hell,” Medvedev said on his part. “In the third set, in my mind, I was already thinking about what to say in the speech. I was fighting and I didn’t give up, but unfortunately, it didn’t go my way.”
Over 23,000 fans witnessed the epic match at the Arthur Ashe stadium in Flushing Meadows, Queens. The Spaniard was the clear audience favorite, while the Russian – who has had several scuffles with the public over the course of the tournament – got a much colder reception that even included a few scattered boos.
Medvedev, world No. 5, gave an above-par performance in his first Grand Slam final appearance, showing great tenacity in his third-set comeback that saw a marked increase of his aggression as he blasted away on both wings and volleyed with fury.
He almost became the first Russian to earn a Grand Slam title since Marat Safin won the 2005 Australian Open, as well as the youngest player to do so since Juan Martin del Potro’s 2009 US Open win when he was 20 years old.
Nadal, on the other hand, became the second-oldest player to clinch the US Open after Australian legend Ken Rosewall, who won the trophy in 1970 at the ripe age of 35.
He is also the only tennis player – both in the men’s and women’s categories – to have won the same Grand Slam (the French Open) 12 times. In addition, he now has four US Open titles, two Wimbledon victories and one Australian Open trophy, for a grand total of 19 Grand Slams, right on Federer’s heels.
With his victory in New York, Nadal extended his overall streak to 10 straight wins, with an overall record of 26-1 in the past five tournaments.
They include his two clay-court titles in Rome and Paris for the Roland Garros, his win in Montreal – where he easily vanquished Medvedev in their only previous duel – and a semi-final finish at Wimbledon.
Thanks to this latest triumph, Nadal has inched closer to finishing the year at the top of the ATP rankings, a spot still held by Serbia’s Novak Djokovic. EFE