Nadal terms epic win over Medvedev 'most emotional'
Calling it one of the most emotional nights of his 18-year career, Rafael Nadal celebrated a dramatic US Open final victory on Sunday over Daniil Medvedev for his 19th Grand Slam title.
New York : Calling it one of the most emotional nights of his 18-year career, Rafael Nadal celebrated a dramatic US Open final victory on Sunday over Daniil Medvedev for his 19th Grand Slam title.
The 33-year-old Spanish left-hander grabbed his fourth career title on the New York hardcourts in thrilling fashion, squandering a two-set lead before outlasting the Russian fifth seed 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 after four hours and 50 minutes. "I more or less had the match under control," Nadal said.
"The way he was able to fight to change the rhythm of the match was incredible." Nadal's head was in his hands as he became emotional in the moments after his epic triumph, feelings compounded when a tribute video of his Grand Slam titles was shown in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"Has been one of the most emotional nights in my tennis career, with that video, with all of you," Nadal told a cheering crowd that chanted his name several times in the intense final set.
"There's no stadium in the world that's more energetic than this one." Outside of the French Open, where Nadal took his 12th title in June, the US Open is the Slam title he has captured the most in his career.
"That's so important," Nadal said of his fourth US Open crown. "This victory means a lot. And the way it happened. It was hard to control the nerves. The nerves were so high after having the match almost under control."
Nadal has dropped only one Grand Slam match out of more than 200 when he has won the first two sets, that loss coming to Fabio Fognini in the third round of the 2015 US Open. But he nearly became the first man since 1949 to lose the US final after winning the first two sets.
Clay fiend Spaniard finds unlikely second home at US Open
Unlike at his beloved Roland Garros, success did not arrive overnight for Rafael Nadal on the unforgiving hard courts of the US Open, where he surged to within a title of Roger Federer's all-time men's Grand Slam singles record on Sunday.
Nadal's epic victory over Daniil Medvedev secured the Spaniard his fourth US Open crown, leaving him one shy of the Open era record of five titles belonging to long-time rival Federer, Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors.
But it was not an instant connection between Nadal, his notoriously suspect knees, and the year's final Grand Slam tournament.
"I think at the beginning of my career have been some tough moments here, losing matches," said Nadal, who failed to reach a single semi-final in his first five trips to the US Open.
During that span, Nadal would claim at least one singles title at the other three majors, but it was not until his eighth visit to Flushing Meadows that he would get his hands on an elusive US Open trophy.
"Since a long time ago, every time that I came here I felt comfortable. I felt very competitive and fighting for the big things," Nadal said during his run to a second US Open title in three years.
"I feel comfortable here, I like the atmosphere, I like the crowd. I feel a big energy when I am playing in this Arthur Ashe Stadium."
Nadal's latest coronation, his 19th Grand Slam title, reinforced the fact the slower courts of the US Open and his obliging knees have turned New York into a land of opportunity.
Vanquished opponents this past fortnight struggled to find superlatives befitting the 33-year-old as he capped one of his greatest Grand Slam years in thrilling style.
Diego Schwartzman suggested Nadal was "like a lion in the middle of the jungle" while Matteo Berrettini called him "the greatest fighter ever in this sport."
"It's tough to find words. He's one of the greatest champions in the history of our sport. He's just a machine, a beast on the court," Medvedev said.
Victory on Sunday moved Nadal to within one Grand Slam title of Federer, who, at 38, is more than four years older, but the Spaniard downplayed the importance of catching the Swiss legend.
"Of course, I would love to be the one who achieves more Grand Slams, but I still sleep very well without being the one who has more Grand Slams," Nadal said, with typical humility.
His Grand Slam CV boasts 12 French Opens, four US Open titles, two at Wimbledon and one at the Australian Open. His 2008 Wimbledon final triumph over Federer is widely regarded as the greatest-ever final at the majors.
Along with Federer and Novak Djokovic, the other member of tennis' "Big Three", Nadal has comfortably passed the $100 million prize money barrier.
Tennis has been good for Nadal but he has been just as influential as a key driver of the sport's growth. He won an under-12 regional crown at age eight and by 12 had captured Spanish and European age-group junior titles.