US Open 2021 – Novak Djokovic falls short of history but soaks in the love

NEW YORK — Novak Djokovic coated his face with a towel, however he could not cover his sobs from his courtside chair in Arthur Ashe Stadium. As he desperately tried to hide his eyes from sight, he inadvertently uncovered extra of his face and his feelings have been on full show for all to see.

Only one win away from reaching tennis immortality, he had as an alternative lastly proven himself to be mortal in spite of everything. Djokovic, 34, had no solutions on Saturday for 25-year-old Daniil Medvedev and his blistering serve within the US Open ultimate, as he was handed a stunning 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 loss.

It wasn’t the way in which he had dreamed in regards to the day.

Saturday was speculated to be his coronation because the “Biggest of All Time,” the day he joined Rod Laver as the one males within the historical past of the Open period to attain the elusive Grand Slam, and the event through which he surpassed his rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for many main titles by a male participant at 21. He knew how excessive the stakes have been and had stated on Friday he was going to play the match as if it have been his final.

However he had failed in his mission, and it wasn’t simply disappointment he was feeling within the preliminary moments after the match.

“Aid,” Djokovic informed reporters quickly after about his major emotion. “I used to be glad it was over as a result of the buildup for this event and all the things that mentally, emotionally I needed to cope with all through the event within the final couple of weeks was only a lot. It was so much to deal with.

“I used to be simply glad that lastly the run is over. On the similar time I felt unhappiness, disappointment, and likewise gratitude for the group and for that particular second that they’ve created for me on the courtroom.”

The scene at Ashe was all the things Djokovic might have wished. There was a crowd that consisted of the A-list of the A-list — Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper, Spike Lee and Laver himself — and 24,000 others who wished to witness tennis historical past. They chanted, “Novak, Novak, Novak” all through the match, irrespective of the rating, and waved Serbian flags and indicators professing accolades and love. For Djokovic, who has all the time obtained blended sentiments from crowds, the stage was set for the defining second of his profession.

However Medvedev was just too ready, too prepared for the second. Taking part in in his third main ultimate, and having misplaced to Djokovic within the Australian Open ultimate in February, he was decided to make the most of a distinct technique on Saturday, and he wasted no time implementing it.

Medvedev gained 20 of his first 23 service factors — and by no means eased up. He had 16 aces and nabbed an astonishing 42 of 52 factors (81%) on his first serve. Djokovic was unable to unravel the riddle.

“He was hitting his spots very properly,” Djokovic stated. “He got here out very decided on the courtroom. You possibly can really feel that he was simply at highest of his skills in each shot. He had numerous readability what he must do tactically. He has executed it completely.

“The opposite hand, I used to be just under par with my sport. My legs weren’t there. I used to be attempting, I did my finest. Yeah, I made numerous unforced errors. I did not have — no serve actually. In case you’re enjoying somebody like Medvedev, who hits his spots so properly, simply aces, will get numerous free factors on his first serve, you are continuously feeling stress in your service video games.”

With every ace or one in every of Medvedev’s 38 winners that whizzed by, Djokovic’s cheeks puffed out in frustration. He had an opportunity to interrupt Medvedev, serving at 1-2 within the second set, however was first interrupted by inadvertent music (later recognized as a part of the “In memoriam” section that aired on the video display throughout a break) being performed over the loudspeaker and the purpose was replayed. By the point he finally misplaced the sport, his anger had almost bubbled over. He smashed his racket on the bottom. Moments earlier he had appeared to restrain himself from tossing his racket.



Novak Djokovic reveals seen frustration as he furiously bangs his racket on the bottom after making a mistake in opposition to Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev rattled off the subsequent two video games and dramatically shifted the momentum, leaving Djokovic few probabilities to reverse his fortunes.

He made a valiant effort after shedding the primary 4 video games of the third set, and the group did its half to will him again into the match with loud cheers and chants, however it was just too late and never sufficient.

It was throughout in an astounding 2 hours and quarter-hour. Djokovic’s excellent document at majors this season, which regarded so untouchable simply eight weeks in the past, was over. For individuals who had been paying consideration since his victory at Wimbledon, it won’t have been an entire shock, however it nonetheless was a stunning conclusion to among the best seasons in latest tennis historical past.

After Djokovic gained his third main title of the 12 months on the All England Membership in July, the dialog rapidly turned to his capacity to attain the “Golden Slam” in Tokyo. Steffi Graf had been the one participant in historical past to do it in 1988, and Djokovic, having appeared invincible within the greatest matches of the years, appeared a close to lock to win gold. The US Open appeared like a mere formality.

However the Olympic Video games did not go to plan both.

Regardless of being up a set and a break, Djokovic misplaced to Alexander Zverev within the semifinals, thus ending his likelihood to hitch Graf within the document books. The subsequent day, it received even worse. Taking part in Pablo Carreno Busta within the bronze-medal match, he could not management his mood and threw a racket into the stands, and slammed one other on the bottom. He misplaced the match, then withdrew from the blended doubles bronze-medal match moments later and left Tokyo empty-handed. He did not play once more till New York.

Nonetheless, regardless of the hiccup and the monthlong break from competitors, he was the overwhelming favourite to win in New York. In relation to majors, there’s dominance, after which there’s Djokovic. Together with his Wimbledon win, he had taken 19 of the previous 41 Grand Slam tournaments he had entered. With Federer and Nadal each absent because of accidents, a title appeared all however sure.

Whereas younger gamers like Medvedev and Zverev have been thought-about threats, few believed they might defeat Djokovic in a best-of-five-set match or with a lot on the road. Djokovic stated reaching the calendar Slam can be the best achievement of his profession on the event’s begin and stated he was “massively impressed and motivated by that.” However he was fast to level out that he needed to keep within the current and take it one match at a time. Following his win within the quarterfinals, he stopped ESPN’s Patrick McEnroe from asking about it as a result of he later stated he did not need to burden himself with it.

On the courtroom, Djokovic’s play was nowhere close to flawless, and at moments, he appeared weak. He wanted 4 units in his first-round match in opposition to 18-year-old Holger Rune. He gained only one match in straight units, within the second spherical. Within the semifinals, he wanted a decider to defeat Zverev.

With only one win standing between him and the milestone, he quoted Kobe Bryant and stated the job wasn’t but completed. He talked about seeing Serena Williams come so near the calendar Slam in 2015, earlier than shedding within the semifinals on the US Open, and the way emotional she was after the loss.

He understood her ache much more on Saturday, and confirmed it.

Djokovic did not obtain what he had got down to accomplish on Saturday. However he did lastly get one thing he had all the time wished: adoration and real love from the tennis world. As the group showered him with an ovation after he gained his fourth straight sport within the ultimate set, he raised his fist and smiled through the break. By sniffles, he later informed the group precisely what the help had meant to him throughout his on-court interview forward of the trophy presentation.

“I wish to say that tonight though I’ve not gained the match, my coronary heart is crammed with pleasure and I’m the happiest man alive since you guys made me really feel very particular within the courtroom,” he stated. “You guys touched my soul. I’ve by no means felt like this in New York, actually. I like you guys.”

Usually criticized for his polarizing off-the-court actions and opinions, and perceived as conceited by others, Djokovic has merely by no means had the fanatical fandom skilled by Federer and Nadal. However this loss may need modified issues. It wasn’t the calendar-year Grand Slam or a record-breaking main title, however Djokovic felt one thing optimistic in defeat.

“The emotion, the vitality was so sturdy,” Djokovic stated in his postmatch information convention. “I imply, it is as sturdy as profitable 21 Grand Slams. That is how I felt, actually. I felt very, very particular.” | US Open 2021 – Novak Djokovic falls in need of historical past however soaks within the love


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