Daniil Medvedev Ends Novak Djokovic's Grand Slam Bid, Wins 2021 US Open Men's Final

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 12, 2021

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 12: Daniil Medvedev of Russia celebrates winning the second set against Novak Djokovic of Serbia during their Men's Singles final match on Day Fourteen of the 2021 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 12, 2021 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The wait continues for Novak Djokovic.

Daniil Medvedev took down the No. 1 seed 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to win the 2021 U.S. Open on Sunday at Arthur Ashe Stadium. 

US Open Tennis @usopen

Daniil Medvedev becomes the first man in over a decade to win the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USOpen</a> while only dropping one set. 💼 <a href="https://t.co/pjeVvgeJrs">pic.twitter.com/pjeVvgeJrs</a>

This is the first Grand Slam title of the Russian's career. He had reached the final of both the 2019 U.S. Open and the 2021 Australian Open.

For Djokovic, he's denied what would've been the first calendar Grand Slam in men's singles since Rod Laver in 1969. He also remains stuck at 20 all-time Grand Slam titles, tied for the all-time lead with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Medvedev overpowered Djokovic in the first set, recording eight aces and 13 winners. He also got the Serbian star on the ropes early with a service break in the opening game and nearly earned a second break in the third game.

US Open Tennis @usopen

Daniil Medvedev is off to a strong start, up 3-1 on Djokovic. <a href="https://t.co/xjb7fhCsSH">pic.twitter.com/xjb7fhCsSH</a>

It wasn't an unfamiliar position for Djokovic, though, considering he dropped the first set in each of his last four matches before turning the tables and pulling out a win. The onus was still on Medvedev to outlast the 34-year-old, something nobody had done at a Grand Slam event yet in 2021.

The Russian remained unflappable as he grabbed a two-sets-to-none lead.

At 0-1, Medvedev saved three break points before winning the game, and Djokovic failed to capitalize on either of the break-point opportunities he created in the fourth game. Medvedev proceeded to earn a critical break in the fifth game to go up 3-2.

Djokovic grew increasingly frustrated as the set unfolded, slamming his racket into the court at one point.

ESPN @espn

Djokovic was noticeably frustrated during the second set at the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USOpen</a> <a href="https://t.co/K2vh7mC3Lp">pic.twitter.com/K2vh7mC3Lp</a>

With Medvedev serving up 5-4, one rally summed up the match to that juncture. A drop shot brought Djokovic to the net, and he responded with a deft drop shot of his own across the court. Medvedev somehow wrapped a running forehand around the net for a winner in the corner.

US Open Tennis @usopen

Everything is coming up Medvedev. <a href="https://t.co/gTNbhfJTpH">pic.twitter.com/gTNbhfJTpH</a>

As composed as Djokovic looked with his back against the wall in the Big Apple this summer, the impenetrable facade crumbled Sunday. Medvedev, on the other hand, displayed the kind of robotic consistency long associated with his opponent.

Within the first three games of the third set, Djokovic committed eight unforced errors and dropped serve twice.

Dan Wolken @DanWolken

Daniil Medvedev has broken Novak Djokovic for a second time in the third set and has a 6-4, 6-4, 3-0 lead. This U.S. Open final is getting away from Novak quickly

As great as Djokovic's conditioning is, getting pushed to five sets by Alexander Zverev after three straight four-setters left him in a particularly difficult spot to mount the kind of comeback his steep deficit required.

The fans inside Arthur Ashe Stadium let out a load roar after Djokovic broke Medvedev in the eighth game and held in his next service game. But Medvedev shut the door when serving at 5-4. His reaction immediately after match point told the story of the evening:

US Open Tennis @usopen

No words. <a href="https://t.co/MI3DFzRf6d">pic.twitter.com/MI3DFzRf6d</a>

There's a reason no men's singles player since Laver has pulled off the calendar Grand Slam. Even when the stars seem to align for a contender—as they did for Djokovic in 2021—one bad day can render it all meaningless.

Given his age, this was probably Djokovic's last best shot to achieve tennis immortality.

For the 25-year-old Medvedev, this could be the start of great things to come.