Novak Djokovic's bid for a calendar Grand Slam came one match short when he lost to Daniil Medvedev in the U.S. Open final on Sunday, but he said he felt "relief" when it was over.
"I was glad it was over because the buildup for this tournament and everything that mentally, emotionally I had to deal with throughout the tournament in the last couple of weeks was just a lot," Djokovic said, per Aishwarya Kumar of ESPN. "It was a lot to handle."
Had the top seed won, he would have become the first men's player to win the Grand Slam in a year since Rod Laver did so in 1969. He also would have surpassed Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with his 21st major title.
Kumar noted he made 38 unforced errors and was issued a code violation for smashing his racket at one point, so he was not on top of his game like he was so often this year.
It was a far different Djokovic than the one who defeated Medvedev in straight sets in the Australian Open final.
"Three wins, three slams and a final," he said. "For the last couple of years, I've been very transparent and vocal about my goals, to play my best tennis at slams. I'm managing to do that. Of course, I was short today for another slam title, but I have to be proud with everything that my team and I have achieved."
Djokovic could not overcome his slow start in Sunday's game, which broke from the pattern he developed throughout the U.S. Open.
He lost the first set in the third round to Kei Nishikori, the fourth round to Jenson Brooksby, the quarterfinals to Matteo Berrettini and the semifinals to Alexander Zverev. It seemed as if it would be business as usual when he dropped the first set to Medvedev, but the challenger did not wilt.
Instead, he got better as the match continued and ended up winning in straight sets to end the Grand Slam chances for the all-time great.