NEW YORK – On a sleepless night during Wimbledon, Daniel Medvedev imagined what he would do if he won the game’s most fabulous competition.
The Russian player knew that if he did, he would have to celebrate a special occasion, as there have been timeless and iconic reactions to the last several championship points at the championship.
“It’s going to be very boring not to celebrate, because I always do [boring],” Medvedev thought to himself.
Medvedev did not win Wimbledon. But here he was on Sunday, in the final of the US Open, on the verge of making history and pulling Novak Djokovic from winning the calendar Grand Slam and an unprecedented 21st Major, one of the biggest accidents in tennis.
After beating the 129 mph service winner and winning the first slam, Medvedev took a few steps before his body limped, falling on his left shoulder and sticking out his tongue.
“I love playing FIFA,” Medvedev said of the popular soccer video game. “It’s called the ‘Deadfish’ celebration. If you know your opponent when you play FIFA, you’re going to do it many times [to annoy your opponent] … I talked to the [young] kids in the locker room. It was like, It’s a myth. “
It was only fitting that Medvedev celebrated like a real gamer only after defeating one of the greats of tennis. He kept service numbers like video games, winning 81% marks on his first service and gaining 16 aces. It was broken once in 15 service games against the biggest return in the game.
Playing in front of the crowd at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, which witnessed history, Medvedev defeated Djokovic in several ways in his own game. Considered a chess master by his teammates for the way he thinks and plays, Medvedev did something for Djokovic: he won long, grinding, soul-crushing rallies. Medvedev won 18 of the 25 rallies that lasted nine shots or more in the final.
Maybe that’s why Djokovic lost his fourth game of the second set, when he smashed his racket three times and hit him. Djokovic was furious before the tournament that Medvedev had to make a serious point after playing the music by mistake after giving a deep return to the service.
The reality was that Djokovic knew to this day that he would have to take advantage of every opportunity he earned. And Medvedev did not give him much.
Not surprisingly, Medvedev thought he would get everything back. That’s what he does. But beating Djokovic in long baseline rallies from time to time is great for a guy named Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal.
After Djokovic defeated Germany’s Alexander Zverev, Medvedev’s teammate next-generation star, in five sets in the semifinals here, Djokovic said he wanted his rivals to experience the threatening element the Serbian player presented in the biggest moments of the match. Djokovic had won most of the four matches by a landslide and was always big when the pressure was highest.
Medvedev, however, continued to respond swiftly at any time he thought would change. Due to the crowd on Djokovic’s side, Medvedev was able to do a great service to calm the fans.
Djokovic has almost never played his best tennis, his feet are not only five-setter on Friday night, but Rod Lever has been under increasing pressure to do something no one has done since 19 in did: win all four major in the same year.
Djokovic was so dominant in the Slams this season that he made everyone forget how he looks human. It also caused everyone to lose sight of how good Medvedev is.
No one is better on the hard court than Medvedev in winning hardware (147), finals (17) and titles (12). Defeat in five sets by Nadal.
But the distance to enter on Sunday was as wide as in their previous Grand Slam final, when Djokovic defeated Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in the final of the Australian Open.
“I lost him once in a straight set in London,” Medvedev said. “… maybe he had a bad day [here]. If you talk about Australia, I certainly didn’t play my best there. But, again, maybe people will say, ‘Well, Novak ruined it.’ Whatever.
“He was definitely not in his best position. We saw him play better. The question is, if he is, can I [stay] with him? We’ll never know now. I’m happy to win.”
As two men stood up during the trophy presentation, Medvedev told the rest of the crowd and Djokovic something he had never told anyone before.
Medvedev said, “I want to say sorry first for you and for the fans, because everyone knows what he was going for today.” “I’ve never told anyone what you’ve achieved this year and throughout your career, but to me you’re the greatest tennis player in history.”
Medvedev has long been considered one of the next great talents in the game. But before defeating Felix Agar-Aliasime of Canada, the first man born in the 2000s to play in a Grand Slam semifinal, Medvedev joked that perhaps he was no longer the next genre.
Djokovic confirmed that he was not. Medvedev has now come up with his first slam.
“The transition was inevitable,” Djokovic said, adding that new stars began to win major after Dominic Theme won last year. “The big men are still hanging. We’re still trying to shed as much light on the tennis world as possible.
“But the new generation, if you want to call them that way, it’s not new. It’s already underway, established. Of course, they’re going to take over. I think tennis is in good hands.”
In the end, Medvedev was able to stop the crowd that wanted Djokovic’s miracle. But Medvedev had two things in mind.
Sunday was Medvedev’s birthday with his wife Daria. Medvedev admitted that he had not bought the gift and that she had to win the final as a gift. With the back of his mind and the distortions in the final match, Medvedev shut down Djokovic and closed the door to history.
There was only “dead fish” left to run.
Djokovic did not have his great victory, but Medvedev had his unforgettable celebration.
“I was a little hurt,” Medvedev said of falling on the hard court. “But I’m glad I made it mythical for me.”