Rafael Nadal survived.
The 33-year-old defeated Daniil Medvedev in the final of the 2019 U.S. Open to earn his 19th Grand Slam title Sunday in Flushing Meadows, New York.
Nadal appeared to be in cruise control after winning the first two sets. Then Medvedev turned the tables and won the next two to push the match to a decisive fifth set. In total, the match needed four hours, 49 minutes to determine a victor.
Now, Nadal only needs one more Grand Slam championship to tie Roger Federer for the most ever by a men's singles player. Whereas Federer once felt a class above in the discussion of the greatest male player in tennis history, Nadal might ultimately move ahead.
He's obviously no stranger to this setting, yet his reaction during his post-match victory ceremony spoke volumes about how much the result meant.
The French Open is the major tournament most synonymous with the Spaniard because he has lifted the winner's trophy 12 times at Roland-Garros. After Sunday, he's a four-time U.S. Open champion, an achievement that shouldn't go overlooked.
It won't help ease the sting from his defeat, but the 23-year-old Medvedev made a huge impression in his first Grand Slam final. Many wrote him off completely after the second, and he pushed Nadal to the brink.
Even the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium couldn't help but cheer Medvedev, who earlier in the tournament goaded the New York crowd into booing him even louder.
The men's singles final had a little bit of everything.
In addition to the on-court drama, fans witnessed a legend celebrate another memorable moment in what will be a Hall of Fame career. In Medvedev, the 2019 U.S. Open might have positioned a star who can help carry the mantle when Nadal, Federer and Novak Djokovic step aside.