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On Sunday, Daniil Medvedev did what no one else had done this entire year: beat Novak Djokovic at a Grand Slam.
Medvedev was simply better than Djokovic, winning his very first US Open (and Grand Slam) 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Djokovic had history on the line — the fourth calendar year Slam ever and his record 21st Grand Slam title — but after a punishing tournament, three more sets were just too many.
Medvedev started off strong out of the gate, winning three of the first four games. Facing a two-game deficit, Djokovic started changing it up. He went to the net more often, catching Medvedev off guard and forcing him to make errors. But Medvedev's serve was really working for him, and he won the first set 6-4 in just 36 minutes.
With Djokovic down a set, everyone was wondering: is he in real trouble here, at the worst time possible?
Normally, the answer would be "of course not." We've seen this from Djokovic time and time again — he falls behind early, then comes roaring back in the second set. This was the fifth consecutive match in which Djokovic had fallen one set behind, and once again he started the second set like his pants were on fire.
But he couldn't keep up the intensity. Medvedev tied it at two games each and then pretty much didn't look back. Djokovic got so frustrated at one point that he smashed his racket on the ground, then shortly after let Medvedev win three straight games. He rebounded and ended up winning four games, but Medvedev again took the set.
Medvedev just seemed unstoppable. For a few minutes, it looked like Djokovic was going to lose the third and final set without winning a single game. He managed to find his way out of that particular hole, even breaking Medvedev to deny him the win and get himself closer to even at 5-3.
The crowd had firmly been on Djokovic's side the entire match, but when he was down late in the third set, they really got loud, encouraging him to make a comeback. It helped. After breaking Medvedev, he won the service game to bring himself within one game of tying the set. Djokovic just wouldn't go down, and if he was, he was going to go down swinging.
He tried to rebound, but the deficit was too large. After double faulting on the championship point, he sealed the deal and fell down onto the court in happiness and exhaustion. Medvedev beat Djokovic when it mattered most, and now he's got his very first Grand Slam title.
Djokovic faces loss
Djokovic knew what had been lost. He knew how much history was on the line, and he couldn't pretend it didn't matter to him. He very sincerely congratulated Medvedev at the net when the match was over, but burst into tears underneath his towel when he was sitting in his chair.
He continued to be emotional during the trophy ceremony, unable to stop the pent up feelings of a long year of hard work. The crowd, which was behind him the entire match, let out their loudest roars as he was accepting his runner-up trophy, unfurling their Djokovic posters and banners and letting him know that his loss on Sunday doesn't change his legacy.
Both Medvedev and Djokovic praised each other extensively during their post match speeches. They made it clear to everyone that there were no hard feelings between them, despite everything that was on the line during the match.