Novak Djokovic entered Sunday's U.S. Open championship having won 27 consecutive major tournament matches. He needed one more to complete the first men's calendar Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.
No. 2 Daniil Medvedev got in the way.
The Russian star knocked off Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to earn his first major title at 25 years old. The crowd tried to will Djokovic back into the match after he dropped the first two sets, but there was little the Serbian could do to overcome Medvedev's attack.
The new U.S. Open champ acknowledged as much in his postgame comments.
"First of all I want to say sorry for you the fans and Novak, because we all know what he was going for today," Medvedev said while accepting his trophy. "What you accomplished this year and throughout your career—I never said this to anybody but I'll say it right now, for me, you're the best tennis player in history."
That very well may be the case, but it wasn't on Sunday.
Medvedev lit into Djokovic with 16 aces, winning on 81 percent of his first serves, capturing four of eight break points and winning overall points 99-83. Djokovic, long considered one of the best returners in the sport, even lost on receiving points, 35-26. It was a dismantling of tennis' greatest star and led to Djokovic smashing his racket during a low point in the second set.
A teary-eyed Djokovic could only thank the fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium for giving him the strength to make it back to the final.
“I was thinking in both scenarios, kind of visualizing myself standing here in front of you guys and what would I say," Djokovic told the crowd. "I would like to say, tonight, even though I did not win the match my heart is filled with joy and I’m the happiest man alive because you guys made me feel very special. ... You guys touch my soul. I’ve never felt like this in New York."
And for Medvedev, he had an even stronger statement.
"If there is anyone who deserves the Grand Slam title right now, it’s you," Djokovic said. “You’ll be on this stage in the future again”
Before Medvedev exited he was handed the championship trophy and a check for $2.5 million. Djokovic walked away with $1.25 million as the runner-up.