Daniil Medvedev won the first major championship of his career in stunning fashion, defeating world No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the 2021 U.S. Open final on Sunday. The upset victory denied Djokovic a chance at winning the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men's singles tennis since 1969.
Here's a look at the winning moment, which came on the third championship point:
Medvedev was about as close as a world No. 2 can come to being an afterthought ahead of this match. The focus was on Djokovic and what he was looking to achieve. The 34-year-old Serbian had a chance to join Don Budge and Rod Laver as the only men's players to win all four Grand Slam titles in a single year. A win also would've given him 21 majors on his career, breaking a tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most all-time.
Medvedev refused to be a footnote to history. The 25-year-old Russian was composed from start to finish, breaking Djokovic in the very first game and making the tough shots when he had to. Djokovic could never quite put it together. He had 38 unforced errors against 27 winners and routinely sent his shots crashing into the net.
Medvedev shared that the win came on his wedding anniversary:
Djokovic thanked the crowd for its support during the match:
It wouldn't have been at all surprising to see Medvedev give Djokovic a tough time in the final, as he came into the match having won three of his last five matches against him. But winning in straight sets? That came as a shock to some, such as ESPN's D'Arcy Maine:
Even when Djokovic dropped the first set, it hardly seemed like a reason to panic:
Djokovic had indeed lost the first set to his last four opponents in the run to the U.S. Open final and had similar early struggles in the French Open and Wimbledon finals. A steely eyed return to form seemed likely, but Djokovic was never quite able to get out of his own way.
With Medvedev hitting the ball sharply and avoiding costly mistakes, Djokovic's frustrations with his own play boiled over in the second set, as he smashed his racket down 2-1:
The outpouring of emotions didn't do him any good, as Medvedev kept his cool and took care of business. He won 15 of 15 points when his first serve was successful in the second set. After breaking Djokovic early, he left no room for the Serbian to counter.
The New York Times' Ben Rothenberg felt Medvedev was simply a cut above a surprisingly shaky Djokovic:
In the third set, Medvedev was up 5-2 and serving for the first championship point. After a long wait, Medvedev double-faulted, giving Djokovic some brief daylight. Djokovic won the next two points, but it merely delayed the final outcome. After double-faulting on his second championship point, Medvedev finally held on at his third shot at victory, collapsing on the court in what turned out to be a nod to a video game celebration:
The win from Medvedev is a rare breakthrough in an era that Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have dominated. The latter two missed the U.S. Open entirely, and their age and diminishing fitness levels may finally open up more opportunities for young talent like Medvedev to shine on the sport's biggest stages.
But it's far from a given for the next generation, as Djokovic, Federer and Nadal will all be hunting for major No. 21 in the new year.
All match stats courtesy of USOpen.org.