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US Open: Nadal edges Medvedev in five-set thriller to win 19th Grand Slam title

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 9 Sep 2019
  • Nadal overcomes Medvedev in five sets to win fourth U.S. Open title and 19th Grand Slam
  • The Spaniard is just one slam off Federer's record haul of 20
Rafael Nadal with the US Open trophy (PA Images)

It was a match fitting to conclude Grand Slam tennis for the decade as Rafael Nadal outlasted a spirited Daniil Medvedev in a five-set thriller to secure his 19th major title and fourth U.S. Open crown on Sunday in New York.

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Nadal won the first U.S. Open title of the decade and on Sunday night he captured the last, edging Medvedev in one of the best Grand Slam finals in recent memory. The Spaniard appeared to be cruising to victory up two sets and a break in the third, but Medvedev stepped up and produced an extraordinary comeback, taking the next two sets and forcing a fifth in front of an electric atmosphere inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. However, the Russian couldn’t take advantage of some mini-openings at the start of the fifth, and although Medvedev threatened to stage another fightback as he saved two championship points and recovered from 2-5 to 4-5, it was Nadal who closed out a 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 victory after four hours and 49 minutes of energy-sapping tennis.

"This victory is so important for me," Nadal said as he fought back tears in the trophy ceremony. ”Especially as the match became more and more difficult. I was able to hold the nerves. They were so high. It was a crazy match and I'm just very emotional.
"It was an amazing final. 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."

With his 19th Grand Slam title, Nadal moves to within one trophy of Roger Federer’s all-time record of 20 and three ahead of Novak Djokovic, who sits in third spot with 16.

Rafael Nadal collapses in celebration (PA Images)
The 33-year-old also moves ahead of legends, including Federer, Djokovic, Pete Samrpas, Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall for most Grand Slam titles won after turning 30 with five. Furthermore, Nadal has won the most U.S. Open titles this decade with four.

Nadal has now won 26 of his last 27 matches since claiming the Rome Masters title in May, adding the U.S. Open to title triumphs at Roland Garros and the Canada Masters, with his only defeat in that span coming to Federer in the Wimbledon semi-finals.

Coming into the final with just one set lost for the entire tournament, it looked as if Nadal was about to complete a similar result to that of his semi-final win over Matteo Berrettini, where he won a close first set and proceeded to win the next two relatively comfortably.

Medvedev had other ideas however, with his impressive balance of aggressiveness, consistency and supreme movement starting to force Nadal into uncomfortable positions. The Russian would force a fourth set as he broke Nadal with his 18th winner of the set, but it paled in comparison to the drama Medvedev created at the end of the fourth.

Rafael Nadal (right) and Daniil Medvedev pose with their trophies (PA Images)
Both men held serve until Nadal was serving at 4-5, with Medvedev sneaking a magical backhand return winner past the Spaniard to extend the match into a fifth as the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd erupted. Medvedev, who had begun to serve-and-volley frequently and successfully, had his chances at the start of the fifth set, creating two break points in Nadal’s first service game, but the World No. 2 saved both by painting the lines and drew level.

That seemingly broke the spirit of Medvedev as Nadal went on to win five of the next six games, but we were in for one last twist as the Russian got one of the breaks back and held his own serve to go from 2-5 to 4-5, with Nadal double faulting on break point after he was handed a time violation. Medvedev would go on to create another break point as Nadal served for the title a second time, but he couldn’t capitalise as the Spaniard eventually crossed the finish line when the fifth seed hit a return long, collapsing on his back on court as he completed a memorable victory.

It was Nadal’s night, but what Medvedev accomplished in the final and over the entire summer will be remembered for a long time. The 23-year-old beat Novak Djokovic on the way to his maiden Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati and also finished runner-up in Washington and the Canada Masters before a crazy run over the last fortnight to his first Grand Slam final.

Medvedev, who will rise to No. 4 in the world in the new rankings, had his controversial moments, most notably when he was fined $19,000 in his third round match with Feliciano Lopez for aggressively snatching a towel from a ball person and making an offensive gesture to the crowd as they booed him, but he won the New York spectators over in the end, jokingly repeating the line that caused uproar earlier in the tournament during the presentation ceremony.

“It’s because of your energy guys that I’m here in the final,” he said.
"Because of the crowd, I was fighting like hell," said Medvedev, more seriously this time. "In the third set, in my mind, I was already thinking what to say in the speech. I was fighting and I didn't give up, but unfortunately it didn't go my way."

Both players finished the match with positive winners to unforced errors counts, with Nadal firing 62 winners to 46 errors, while Medvedev blasted 75 clean winners for 57 miscues.

But the night ultimately belonged to Nadal, who will have the opportunity to equal Federer’s slam record at the Australian Open - and then perhaps pass it - at Roland Garros.

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US Open: Nadal edges Medvedev in five-set thriller to win 19th Grand Slam title

It was a match fitting to conclude Grand Slam tennis for the decade as Rafael Nadal outlasted a spirited Daniil Medvedev in a five-set thriller to secure his 19th major title and fourth U.S. Open crown on Sunday in New York.

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