In an instant classic, Rafael Nadal held off Daniil Medvedev, 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, to capture his 19th Grand Slam trophy and fourth US Open crown on Sunday. He is now just one major away from Roger Federer’s record mark of 20.
Nadal became the first man to win five majors after turning 30. In June, the 33-year-old lifted his record-extending 12th Roland Garros trophy over Dominic Thiem.
The world No. 2 improved to 2-0 against Medvedev, adding to August’s Montreal triumph over the Russian. Read below for a live blog on how the sensational final played out.
9:36PM—From one legendary lefty to another: Rod Laver presents Nadal the trophy 50 years after completing his second calendar Grand Slam.
9:33PM—Nadal takes the mic.
On the way Medvedev fought back: “It was an amazing final. His summer is one of the best summers I ever saw. The way that he was able to fight, and change the rhythm of the match was just incredible.”
9:27PM—Medvedev may not have won with the final score, but he is winning with his speech.
On watching Nadal’s montage: “I was like, if I win, what would they show?” The crowd naturally erupted in laughter.
On his up-and-down relationship with the crowd: “I know earlier in the tournament I said something kind of in a bad way. Now I’m saying it in a good way. It’s because of your energy guys I was here in the final.”
9:24PM—A nice, extended applause for Medvedev when he’s introduced.
9:17PM—Rafa is emotional. As a tribute video plays showing a montage of all of Nadal’s Grand Slam victories, the Spaniard appears overwhelmed by the moment, shaking in his chair as tears begin to pour out.
Nadal wins fifth set, 6-4
9:08PM—Rafa’s done it. After saving a break point, Nadal is your 2019 US Open champion following a tremendous tussle that lasted four hours and 49 minutes. What an effort from both players.
8:59PM—Medvedev saves two championship points. Win or loss, tip your cap to the Russian. A 1-2 punch saved the first and a serve-and-volley wiped away the second. Nadal gets a second chance to serve for it at 5-4.
8:52PM—After incurring a time violation, resulting in a second serve, Nadal double faults to drop serve. Still up 5-3 on Medvedev.
8:44PM—Nadal breaks again for 5-2 and will serve for the championship.
8:40PM—Nadal holds at 15 and sits two games away from the trophy with a 4-2 advantage.
8:36PM—From 40-0 down, Nadal breaks for a 3-2 lead, catching Medvedev in no man’s land before finishing off a lengthy exchange with a backhand winner.
8:23PM—On the changeover, Medvedev gets his left quad worked on.
8:21PM—Having crossed the four-hour mark, Medvedev is still standing tall. He shakes off a double fault with firm hands at the net to move ahead 2-1.
8:18PM—Nadal fends off three break points for 1-1. On the third, he was issued a time violation, which resulted in losing his first serve due to his earlier warnings.
8:12PM—Has Medvedev pushed Nadal off the edge? The Spaniard has some words for his opponent after his pace of play is challenged. Boos from the crowd look to be directed at Nadal as he serves down 0-1.
8:08PM—Career fifth set records: Nadal-21-12; Medvedev-0-4
Medvedev wins fourth set, 6-4
8:03PM—Wowwwww. Medvedev claims the fourth set, despite trailing 40-15 in the last game. A forehand pass brought him to deuce and a backhand return winner sailed past the serve-and-volleying Spaniard. The last major match of the decade will go in the books as a great one.
REMINDER: Nadal is 205-1 in majors after leading by two sets. His lone loss came in New York four years ago to Fabio Fognini.
7:57PM—Medvedev is four points from forcing a decider. After Nadal held at love, Medvedev matched him, unleashing another ace to reach 5-4.
7:50PM—Two more aces from the Russian and he stays ahead, up 4-3.
7:43PM—Current average time between serve points: Nadal-30 seconds; Medvedev-22 seconds.
7:41PM—Medvedev denies Nadal two break points for 3-2 lead. Most frustrating for Nadal has to be missing a return when Medvedev came in behind a second serve.
7:31PM—Medvedev recovers from 15-30 by executing key first serves to stay in front, 2-1. He wasn’t pleased with his opponent, stating to the chair, “every time I serve, I have to wait.”
7:26PM—He needed to save a break point, but Nadal brings out the fist pumps and lets his voice be heard in his opening service game. With the match past the three-hour mark, Nadal surely will look to deplete the Russian’s tank by extending rallies as often as possible.
7:19PM—The closing speed is still there. Medvedev comes through a tough service game to open the fourth.
To note: after Medvedev went down a break in the third, his backhand topspin speed jumped from 63 to 73 m.p.h.
Medvedev wins third set, 7-5
7:11PM—The fans wanted more tennis, and they got it. Firmly backing Medvedev, the Cincinnati champion outslugs Nadal, going for broke with free-swinging to earn his first set in five played with Nadal.
7:04PM—With the Ashe crowd (surprisingly?) on his side chanting his name, Medvedev fires an ace for a love hold. Up 6-5.
7:01PM—Nadal levels at 5-5. The pressure is back on Medvedev’s racquet to stay with the three-time champion.
6:57PM—What gutsy play from Medvedev, who holds for 5-4. He survived a 28-shot exchange that set up the first of two break points for Nadal. The Russian worked to keep points short by serving and volley at will. On his second break point chance, Nadal let Medvedev’s lob bounce and netted the overhead reply.
6:49PM—Nadal prevails in a 25-shot rally with a punishing forehand en route to holding for 4-4. Have to wonder what kind of message that sends to his opponent across the net.
6:41PM—Medvedev breaks right back for 3-3. Facing two break points, Nadal rushes the net to stave them off. But Medvedev keeps fighting, hustling for every ball at deuce. Nadal pushed a volley wide and subsequently hit a backhand long in failing to consolidate.
6:33PM—The final nail in the coffin? Sensational scrambling from Nadal gets him the break for 3-2.
6:29PM—A few of the celebrities in attendance for this match include Oscar-winning couple Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, comedian Trevor Noah, former champion skier Lindsey Vonn and actor Alexander Skarsgard.
6:23PM—2-1, Medvedev. The Russian isn’t giving anything away so far in this set, winning eight of nine points on serve.
6:15PM—Medvedev displays the defense and court sense that propelled him to the final in a fantastic cat-and-mouse point to start the third set. He holds without issue.
Nadal wins second set, 6-3
6:08PM—Nadal is closing in on major No. 19. Following a comfortable hold from Medvedev, the second seed held his nerve for a two-set advantage. His confidence on serve grew as the set went on and now, Nadal will look to take his chances more efficiently after finding a three for 11 success rate on break points.
5:55PM—Nadal in front 4-2. What happens when Rafa decides to step in on second serve return? Good things. Will he continue with this stance now that he’s in position to bring out the trademark Nadal gear?
5:46PM—Medvedev wipes away four break points for 2-2. Three weary errors put Medvedev in a 0-40 hole, but he recovered with superb rally tolerance and awareness of Nadal’s position. A serve and volley would save the fourth.
5:38PM—The world no. 2 leads 2-1. Meanwhile, Medvedev has burned two of his three challenges in this set.
5:30PM—Nadal gets out of trouble to open second set with a hold. Medvedev created an early break point with an aggressive inside-out forehand winner, but proceeded to dump a routine backhand. Nadal made eight of 10 first serves.
Nadal wins first set, 7-5
5:20PM—After 62 minutes, Nadal gets a crucial break for a one-set lead. He reached set point by taking it to the fifth seed on the baseline with an 89 m.p.h. forehand winner. Having played around with his court positioning on return, Nadal moved forward to try and apply pressure, an approach that ultimately paid off in his favor.
For Rafa, he’ll surely look to improve his first serve percentage, having only made 47%. Both players made effective decisions when coming forwarding (Medvedev-12/17, Nadal-11/14). Nadal is 15-1 in major finals after winning the first set (l. to Djokovic, 2010 Australian Open)
5:10PM—Medvedev was pushed to deuce but holds and it’s 5-5. He pulled out the drop shot twice, a tactic that will surely continue to feature in this clash with both players positioning themselves well behind the baseline.
4:58PM—Medvedev saves three break points. Three forehand errors off Medvedev’s racquet set up two break points for Nadal, who shifted back to return the Russian’s second serve. Medvedev delivered an impressive serve and volley to erase the second and overcame an untimely double fault to reach 4-4.
4:47PM—Stats check through six games: Nadal, 3 winners to 6 unforced errors; Medvedev, 3 winners to 8 unforced errors.
4:43PM—Whether it’s anger, hunger or a little bit of both, Nadal woke up in his third service game with a commanding love hold.
4:40PM—Back on serve at 2-2. At 30-30, Nadal lets it rip on the forehand, finally breaking down the Russian to reach break point for the first time.
4:37PM—During the changeover, Nadal expresses his frustration to Ali Nili on his shot-clock management. We’ll see if that seeps under Rafa’s skin.
4:35PM—Medvedev breaks for 2-1. Nadal wins two lengthy exchanges but Medvedev, standing well behind the baseline, moves ahead when Nadal’s forehand finds the bottom of the net.
4:28PM—No issues for Medvedev in his opening service game. A nice start for the first-time major finalist.
4:25PM—A lot from Rafa’s side of the court in the first game: an around the net post forehand winner, a time violation warning issued from chair umpire Ali Nili and a break point saved.
4:17PM—As the players wrap up their warm-up, a reminder of their red-hot form: Nadal is on a 26-1 run dating back to Rome. Medvedev has gone 20-2 this summer as a result of his four title match appearances.
4:10PM—No surprise here: a mixed reaction from the crowd when Medvedev is introduced. The noise unifies with loud cheers for the Spaniard’s arrival.
4:08PM—Nadal stops by for his pre-match interview. “He’s in the final of the US Open. You can’t expect something easy. I know I have to play my best.”
4:03 PM—A flyover of four F-15E Strike Eagles from the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, NC completes the opening ceremonies. That only means one thing: the players will be on court soon.
Nadal and Medvedev entered Flushing Meadows as the two in-form players—Nadal defeated Medvedev, 6-3, 6-0, to win the Montreal trophy and Medvedev is contesting his fourth successive final of the North American hard-court swing, picking up his biggest title to date in Cincinnati along the way (on a 20-2 run).
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