World No 2 Daniil Medvedev, on Sunday, ended Novak Djokovic's bid for a calendar year Grand Slam by beating the Serb 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the US Open final. The match that lasted about two hours saw the Russian 'hit the right spots' in order to push Djokovic further and get points at crucial stages of the match.
“He was hitting his spots very well. If you’re playing someone like Medvedev who hits his spots so well, just aces, gets a lot of free points on his first serve, you’re constantly feeling pressure on your service games," said Djokovic after the match.
Let's decode Medvedev's win:
- Daniil played by the books. Orthodox tennis shots, old school style, a high toss and a flattened serve. The Russian had an average first-serve speed of 196kmph. He was precise and earned key points from both deuce and ad-court.
- Turning point: As Djokovic described Medvedev's comeback - a turning point - when he rose from 0-40 to win the the second game of the second set, the moment defined the game.
- One key aspect of Medvedev's game was his deep returning position. The World No 2's position - way behind the baseline, bought him time.
- Medvedev's lateral movement was just smooth and that set him for some strong counterpunches. At the US Open, Medvedev won the most points from defensive situations, at 39%. Against Djokovic he played almost one-third of his shots beyond 2m of the baseline and won 62% of baseline battles.
- On court time: Daniil Medvedev spent 11 hours and 51 minutes on court coming to the finals and Novak Djokovic had played for 17 hours and 26 minutes. The latter agreed that he could be slow.
“Could be, could be. I had more hours on the court spent from Daniil, that’s for sure… I was just below par with my game. My legs were not there. Just energy-wise I felt slow," Djokovic replied when asked if the long run had any effect on him.
Medvedev had lost both previous times he played in a major final, with Djokovic beating him in straight sets this year at the Australian Open.
“After the final in Australia, we had the feeling that Daniil didn’t have this fire that can help your game to be much stronger, especially against a player like Novak,” said Gilles Cervara, Medvedev's coach. "So this had to change, for sure, to play this final at another level.
“Our feeling yesterday and today was that he was ready to compete and to be at high level.”
The Russian has been there for a while, especially on hard courts. He leads all men's players in wins and titles on that surface since 2018 and had reached the U.S. Open semifinals in each of the last three years.
At his best, he is as good as anyone on a hard court — and way better than Djokovic on Sunday.
“I mean, he was hitting his spots very well,” Djokovic said. “He came out very determined on the court. You could feel that he was just at (the) highest of his abilities in every shot.”