Rafael Nadal was forced to dig deep inside himself as he dramatically claimed his nineteenth Major on Sunday after beating off a stunning fight back from 23-year-old Russian Daniil Medvedev to win the US Open.
Roger Federer may be left with a repeat dose of regret about his missed chances at Wimbledon after his lead in the great Grand Slam title race was cut to just one.
Nadal denied Medvedev one of the greatest comebacks in tennis history when he finally forged a 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 victory that took a breathless four hours and 51 minutes.
Nadal said: ”It was an amazing final, I had the match more or less under control. Daniil had a great summer and tonight everyone saw why he is the No 4 player in the world already.
”The way he was able to fight and change the rhythm of the match was fantastic. It is one of the most emotional nights in my tennis career.
”This victory means a lot, especially the way the match became so difficult, the nerves were so high after having the match under control, it was a crazy match.”
He got caught up in an epic struggle of gladiatorial combat after foregoing a break of serve advantage in the third set that had suggested a relatively perfunctory victory. Some of the lengthy baseline rallies had bordered on the dour before the Russian made changes to his game to come into the net more and gave the great Spaniard the fight of his life when within sight of another Grand Slam triumph.
With Novak Djokovic contending with shoulder injuries, the odds have shifted towards him ending up with more of the biggest trophies than his two rivals. The Mallorcan will be forever associated with his clay court dominance, but the fact that this was his fifth Grand Slam title on hard courts (four here and one in Australia) is a testament to his versatility.
But what a scare he got from a player who had lost all four of his previous matches that had gone five sets. His resilience made him the unlikely hero of this tournament, having become one its villains in the first week when he gave the crowds a defiant finger.
Medvedev’s volatile relationship with Flushing Meadows this fortnight was born out by the sporadic boos that greeted him as he walked out on court. As seen in the women’s final, New York does not do underdogs in the same way as Wimbledon.
The match, however, could hardly have started worse for Nadal in that he received a time violation warning in the very first game. He was then broken in his next service game, as Medvedev gave an early reminder that he can play like a human back wall.
That break was quickly reclaimed and soon the Spaniard was piling on the break points, mixing up his spins and darting into the net whenever possible to discomfort his counterpunching opponent. It took until the twelfth game for that to properly pay off, as on a second set point, he gave the approaching Russian a high backhand volley, which he completely miscued. –Mailonline