New York: The 19th Grand Slam title that seemed so inevitable for Rafael Nadal during the first two-plus sets of the US Open final suddenly seemed in doubt as Daniil Medvedev forced it to a fifth.
What had all the makings of a crowning morphed into a real contest thanks to Medvedev, a man a decade younger and appearing in his first major final. Medvedev shifted styles, upped his level and received an unexpected boost from Arthur Ashe Stadium spectators.
Truly tested for the only time in the tournament, the No. 2-seeded Nadal managed to stop Medvedev's surge and hold off his historic comeback bid, pulling out a 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 victory in 4 hours, 50 minutes of highlight-worthy action and feature-film-worthy drama on Sunday, collecting his fourth championship at Flushing Meadows.
Nadal is now within one major trophy of Roger Federer's record for Grand Slam titles won by a man. But this one did not come easily. Not at all. And sportspersons were all in awe of both players for their determination and grit.
" Juan M. del Potro (@delpotrojuan) September 9, 2019
RAFAEL NADAL ¥ï¸
" diego schwartzman (@dieschwartzman) September 9, 2019
Former Spanish tennis player David Ferrer wrote, "There are now words to describe what Nadal has done for the sport and the values he transmits in all aspects. Thanks!"
" David Ferrer (@DavidFerrer87) September 9, 2019
Absolute warriors Rafa and Daniil. Congrats to both. What an incredible final. #USOpen2019
" Mardy Fish (@MardyFish) September 9, 2019
" Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) September 9, 2019
" Darren Cahill (@darren_cahill) September 9, 2019
Yes an amazing match....but what a line, Daniil on the Rafa 19 Grand Slam highlights "what would have shown if I had won"! https://t.co/nRX1X5IA72
" Sir Nick Faldo (@NickFaldo006) September 9, 2019
Argentine tennis player Federico Delbonis wrote, "Let's clone Nadal's brain! It is unique! What a fighter!"
Hagamos una cadena para que clonen la cabeza de RAFAEL NADAL. Es unica!!!!!! Que luchador por favor pic.twitter.com/23eTPhByLn
" Federico Delbonis (@FedeDelbonis) September 9, 2019
Spanish football keeper Pepe Reina wrote, "You have guts Don Rafael Nadal! Example for life!"
" Pepe Reina (@PReina25) September 9, 2019
DON RAFAEL NADAL 1ï¸£9ï¸£ pic.twitter.com/QkJYFCo1bK
" Daniel Ceballos (@DaniCeballos46) September 9, 2019
This is the 12th consecutive #GrandSlam tournament won by a member of the Big 3, the 2nd longest streak only to 18 in a row from 2005 @RolandGarros to 2009 @Wimbledon. During current streak, @Rafa_Nadal has won 5 titles, @Djoker_Nole 4 and @RogerFederer 3. #USOpen
" ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) September 9, 2019
The win continues the Big 3's dominance at Grand Slams. 12 straight majors between Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. The last player to break in? Stan Wawrinka in 2016.
(With inputs from AP)