US Open

Nadal beats Medvedev to claim 19th Grand Slam ti­tle

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - AFP-Yon­hap

NEW YORK (AFP) — De­liv­er­ing one of his most dra­matic ma­jor fi­nal per­for­mances, Rafael Nadal cap­tured his 19th ca­reer Grand Slam ti­tle Sun­day by win­ning his fourth U.S. Open, out­last­ing Rus­sia’s Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4.

The 33-year-old Span­ish left­hander moved one shy of Roger Fed­erer’s all-time men’s record 20 Grand Slam tri­umphs and be­came the sec­ond-old­est New York cham­pion in the Open era af­ter Ken Rose­wall in 1970 at age 35.

“Has been one of the most emo­tional nights in my tennis ca­reer,” Nadal said.

A video tribute in the wake of his gritty tri­umph moved Nadal to tears.

“The way that the match be­came very dra­matic at the end, that makes this day un­for­get­table,” Nadal said.

“Watch­ing all the suc­cess, all the mo­ments that came to my mind, I tried to hold the emo­tion, but some mo­ments was im­pos­si­ble.”

It took a supreme ef­fort from the Span­ish mae­stro, who nearly be­came the first player to drop the fi­nal af­ter leading by two sets since Ted Schroeder in 1949 before win­ning a near five-hour thriller.

“This vic­tory means a lot,” Nadal said. “And the way it hap­pened. It was hard to con­trol the nerves. The nerves were so high af­ter hav­ing the match al­most un­der con­trol.”

World num­ber two Nadal took the top prize of $3.85 mil­lion at Arthur Ashe Sta­dium and added to his U.S. Open trophy haul from 2010, 2013 and 2017.

Nadal, who was in his fifth U.S. Open cham­pi­onship match and 27th Grand Slam fi­nal, is the first man to claim five ma­jor titles af­ter turn­ing 30.

Nadal, who rose to 22-12 in fiveset matches, only lost once at a Slam when up two sets, to Italy’s Fabio Fognini in the 2015 U.S. Open third round.

“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.”

‘Un­be­liev­able, out­ra­geous’

At four hours and 50 min­utes, the match fin­ished four min­utes short of equal­ing the long­est fi­nal in U.S. Open his­tory from Mats Wi­lan­der’s 1988 win and Andy Murray’s 2012 ti­tle.

It was the sec­ond Slam ti­tle of the year for Nadal af­ter taking his 12th French Open crown in June.

In ad­di­tion to reach­ing the brink of Fed­erer’s mark, Nadal moved one shy of the Open era record five U.S. Open titles won by Fed­erer, Jimmy Con­nors and Pete Sam­pras.

“A 19th Grand Slam ti­tle is some­thing un­be­liev­able, out­ra­geous,” Medvedev said.

Nadal, who won his only prior meet­ing with Medvedev in last month’s Mon­treal fi­nal, stretched his win streak over Rus­sians to 20 matches since los­ing to Niko­lay Davy­denko in the 2011 Doha semi-fi­nals.

Fifth seed Medvedev, 23, would have been the youngest men’s Grand Slam cham­pion since Juan Martin del Potro at the 2009 U.S. Open.

Medvedev, who will rise to a ca­reer-best fourth in the rank­ings, was a cham­pion at Cincin­nati and run­ner-up at Mon­treal, Wash­ing­ton and the Open.

“His sum­mer was one of the best sum­mers I ever saw,” Nadal said. “Peo­ple saw why he is al­ready num­ber four in the world.”

Medvedev, who saw his ca­reer-best 12-match win streak snapped, would have been the first Rus­sian to win a Grand Slam ti­tle since Marat Safin at the 2005 Aus­tralian Open and the first Rus­sian to win the U.S. Open since Safin in 2000.

Elec­tric fifth set

On a knife’s edge at 5-5 in the third set, Medvedev reeled off eight of the last nine points to force a fourth, break­ing Nadal in the 12th game with a back­hand win­ner.

“To be hon­est in my mind, I was al­ready think­ing, ‘What do I say in the speech, it’s go­ing to be in 20 min­utes,” Medvedev said.

“I was like, ‘I have to fight for ev­ery ball,’ and it went further but it didn’t go my way.”

Nadal was bro­ken in the 10th game of the fourth set to force a fifth when Medvedev blasted a ster­ling back­hand re­turn win­ner.

Nadal res­cued three Medvedev break chances to hold in the sec­ond game of the fifth set, fired a back­hand vol­ley win­ner to break Medvedev in the fifth game and seized a 5-2 edge when Medvedev hit an over­head smash long.

Serv­ing for the match, Nadal was bro­ken when um­pire Ali Nili is­sued Nadal a time vi­o­la­tion for his first serve and the Spaniard sent his sec­ond long, the crowd boo­ing Nili for his call.

Nadal squan­dered two break and match points in the ninth game as the drama in­ten­si­fied.

Again serv­ing for the match, Nadal res­cued a break point then hit a fore­hand drop vol­ley for his third match point chance and Medvedev sent a fore­hand re­turn long to end mat­ters.

Nadal screamed and fell to the court on his back in joy and ex­haus­tion.

Rafael Nadal of Spain cel­e­brates with the cham­pi­onship trophy dur­ing the trophy pre­sen­ta­tion cer­e­mony af­ter win­ning his Men’s Sin­gles fi­nal match against Daniil Medvedev of Rus­sia on day 14 of the 2019 U.S. Open at the USTA Bil­lie Jean King Na­tional Tennis Cen­ter in the Queens bor­ough of New York City, Sun­day.

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