Rafael Nadal claimed his fourth US Open title after edging a gutsy Daniil Medvedev in a five-set epic to move to within one Grand Slam of Roger Federer’s all-time record.
The Spanish second seed led by two sets and a break before Medvedev, playing in his first major final, launched an astonishing comeback. Nadal eventually ran out 7-5 6-3 5-7 4-6 6-4 winner against the fifth seed after four hours and 50 minutes of breathtaking tennis.
Medvedev knew the size of the task he faced in his first major final, but he created just the 17th break point Nadal had faced in the entire tournament during the opening game, sending a message to the world No 2.
The 23-year-old underdog was unable to take his opportunity on that occasion but he did so on Nadal’s next service game for an early 2-1 advantage. He was, however, unable to solidify his chance with an aggressive Nadal biting back immediately.
Medvedev came through a fluctuating eighth game, saving three break points along the way, but there was no escaping Nadal’s clutches in the 12th game with the lethal forehand of the Spaniard giving him the set after 62 minutes.
Medvedev’s task of an upset was growing impossible knowing that Nadal was 15-1 in Grand Slam finals from this position.
Nadal, who beat the Russian for the loss of three games at the Rogers Cup in August, steadily broke Medvedev’s resistance in the second set for a 4-2 lead before closing it out on serve to inch towards more glory in New York.
The odds on a Medvedev comeback were nigh-on-impossible bearing in mind that the last US Open champion to come back from a two-set deficit in the final was Pancho Gonzales over Ted Schroeder in 1949 and Nadal’s record was an incredible 208-1 after winning the first two sets in his entire career.