Atmosphere and emotion may well be a guarantee for any grand slam title match, but this year’s men’s US Open final had both in abundance.
Daniil Medvedev battled through the boos in New York to crush Novak Djokovic’s dreams of an historic calendar grand slam in straight sets, the Serb overcome with emotion in the closing stages. Djokovic, roared on by a raucous Flushing Meadows crowd, cried into his towel during the third set, tears still in his eyes as he lined up on the baseline for the next game. The adulation for the world No. 1 served as a stark contrast to the treatment of Russian Medvedev, who was forced to endure boos from the New York crowd as he served for championship point.
With Medvedev serving for his first major title at 40-15 in the third set, jeers could be heard amongst the din at the Arthur Ashe Stadium. The 25-year-old proceeded to double fault, sparking jubilant roars among the New York crowd, but Medvedev swiftly collected himself to win the following point and secure the title. “Wow, that was special,” Medvedev told CNN’s Carolyn Manno when asked about the partisan atmosphere. “As soon as we went on the court, it was different to all the matches I played here before. You felt it was a special, special night, special evening, more for him and the crowd going for him and they tried so hard to get him on.
“They definitely didn’t want to disturb me on purpose, I doubt it, but of course before the second serve you get the screams, you make double fault, and the whole crowd goes crazy — it’s really tough. “I know I have to focus on myself and how do I win this match, and again I managed to do it so that’s all that matters,” he added. No stranger to playing the villain in New York, Medvedev’s tolerant reaction was a far cry from his response to boos at the US Open two years ago, when the Russian was subsequently fined for unsportsmanlike conduct and a visible obscenity during his victory over Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.
As he was continuously booed throughout his post-match interview, Medvedev waved his encouragement and told the crowd: “I won because of you.” Yet the clues to his more accepting reaction were evident in comments made to CNN before this year’s tournament, as Medvedev admitted he had learned his “lessons” from that explosive 2019 experience.