US Open final: Rafael Nadal beats Daniil Medvedev in five-set epic to win his 19th Grand Slam title

Rafael Nadal wins his fourth US Open
Rafael Nadal wins his fourth US Open

Rafael Nadal won the 19th Grand Slam title of his glittering career as he beat Daniil Medvedev in a five-set thriller to win the US Open for the fourth time.

The Spanish legend was initially heading for a relatively routine night but was kept out on court for almost five hours by the first-time major finalist from Russia before eventually falling over the line 7-5 6-3 5-7 4-6 6-4 and he now moves to within one of Roger Federer's men's record of 20 titles.

Appearing in his fifth final at Flushing Meadows, Nadal found the first set hard going against the gutsy in-form Medvedev, who was on a 12-match winning streak, but edged 1-0 up and then took the second comfortably.

The 33-year-old looked well on course for a straight sets triumph when breaking in the third but the Russian youngster came storming back with some inspired tennis and great determination.

Medvedev, 10 years his opponent's junior, had revelled in the boos of the crowd earlier in the week after he flipped them the middle finger during the third round but now he was fast becoming a fan favourite on a the raucous Arthur Ashe and responded by sending the match into a fourth set.

A flat looking Nadal was in early trouble at the start of the fourth when facing break point at 1-0 down, only to fire himself up again and earn a crucial hold.

A tie break was looking until Medvedev broke a stunned Spanish legend at 5-4 up to force a deciding set as he looked to become the first player since 1949 Pancho Gonzales against Ted Schroeder in 1949 to win the US Open final from two sets down and the first ever since it became a hard-court tournament in 1978.

Nadal was soon up against it when facing three break points in his first service game of the fifth but he saved them all and let out a huge roar as he strived to wrestle back momentum in his favour.

It did, eventually, when 12-time French Open champion edged a titanic rally of the match to break Medvedev in the fifth game and it wasn't long before he moved 5-2 up and served for the match.

The Russian refused to lie down and managed a break of his own to stay alive - but only after Nadal was given a second time violation of the match by umpire Ali Nili and docked a serve at break point down before promptly sent his second serve wide.

Medvedev then defended two championship points on his own serve to put the pressure back on Nadal.

With the match clock on four hours and 50 minutes, the Spaniard star called on all his extra reserves and experience to finally seal his victory and bringing to an end a truly remarkable final.

"Did I think I might lose? Of course, when you have break point against in the beginning of the fifth, losing the last two sets, you are in trouble," said Nadal.

"But I really try to avoid this thought. I always believe that I going to keep having chances. That's the way that I approach. It's different in his position after two sets to love and break for me, it's human that he had that feeling. But I always was in front of the score until the end. Is difficult for me to think I am going to lose.

"Of course, I was in trouble. But I played a not very good game at the 3-2 of that third set. At that moment things looked under control, but then Daniil increased a lot and changed a lot of things."

At 33 - five years younger than Federer - and with surely at least a couple more French Opens in him, you wouldn't bet against Nadal managing to surpass the Swiss maestro at the top of the all-time leaderboard before they've both retired.

Medvedev can leave New York with his head held high and on this evidence, his time will surely come sooner than later.

The world number five currently has the most number of victories on tour this year and arrived at Flushing Meadows on the back of four straight finals in the hard-court season.

Afterwards Medvedev said to the crowd: "I want to talk about you guys. Earlier I said it in a bad way, now I mean it in a good way. It's because of your energy that I'm here in the final."

He later added: "It was amazing match. It's an amazing story. In the third set I was thinking 'OK, in 20 minutes I have to give a speech. What do I say? Something like that.

"So I was like, 'OK, OK, just fight for every point, don't think about these things'. It worked out not bad.

"Was I close to winning? Yes, one set away. I mean, had break points at 5-4. I will remember everything of it.

"I will be disappointed with the result, but I will be happy with the way I played the whole summer, the whole US Open."

Grand Slam winners: Men's all-time list

  • 20 - Roger Federer
  • 19 - Rafael Nadal
  • 16 - Novak Djokovic
  • 14 - Pete Sampras
  • 12 - Roy Emerson
  • 11 - Rod Laver
  • 11 - Bjorn Borg
  • 10 - Bill Tilden
  • 8 - Fred Perry
  • 8 - Ken Rosewall
  • 8 - Jimmy Connors
  • 8 - Ivan Lendl
  • 8 - Andre Agassi

Rafael Nadal's 19 Grand Slams

2005 French Open

Two days after his 19th birthday, Nadal began an unprecedented period of dominance in Paris with a four-set victory over Argentinian Mariano Puerta.

2006 French Open

Nadal proved he was no flash in the pan on the clay when he beat Roger Federer in the final despite losing the opening set 6-1.

2007 French Open

Federer was again the victim, going down to a four-set defeat as Nadal became the first since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win a hat-trick of titles.

2008 French Open

Nadal matched Borg's feat of four straight titles at Roland Garros when he dismantled Federer in an hour and 48 minutes, dropping just three games.

2008 Wimbledon

Widely regarded as the greatest ever tennis match, Nadal beat Federer 9-7 in the fifth set after four hours and 48 minutes of breathtaking action.

2009 Australian Open

Nadal's only Melbourne triumph to date came against Federer, cranking up their rivalry another notch. He won 7-5 3-6 7-6 (3) 3-6 6-2.

2010 French Open

In a major shock, Robin Soderling had knocked the defending champion out the previous year. Nadal gained revenge on the Swede in straight sets.

2010 Wimbledon

Tomas Berdych was the surprise finalist and he stood little chance as Nadal wrapped up the second of his titles at SW19, 6-3 7-5 6-4.

2010 US Open

A first Flushing Meadows title came against Novak Djokovic, a 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2 victory giving Nadal the full set of grand slams.

2011 French Open

A sixth Roland Garros title equalled Borg's tally. Federer fought hard this time but Nadal got over the line 7-5 7-6 5-7 6-1.

2012 French Open

In a final played on the Monday due to several rain delays, Nadal was at his imperious best as he beat Djokovic 6-4 6-3 2-6 7-5.

2013 French Open

David Ferrer reached the final to set up an all-Spanish clash on the clay. Nadal swept past him 6-3 6-2 6-3 for Paris title number eight.

2013 US Open

Djokovic was Nadal's opponent again in New York, and a 13th grand slam crown was chalked up courtesy of a 6-2 3-6 6-4 6-1 win.

2014 French Open

Djokovic took the first set this time, and pushed Nadal all the way in the second, but still succumbed 3-6 7-5 6-2 6-4.

2017 French Open

Having lost to Djokovic in 2015 and then pulled out injured a year later, Nadal regained his crown amid emotional scenes, beating Stan Wawrinka 6-2 6-3 6-1.

2017 US Open

Big serving South African Kevin Anderson battled his way to the final but found Nadal too hot to handle, going down 6-3 6-3 6-4.

2018 French Open

Dominic Thiem is seen by many as the heir apparent to Nadal on clay, but the Austrian was put firmly in his place in a straight-sets defeat.

2019 French Open

Thiem briefly threatened a shock when he took the second set, but Nadal rallied to beat him 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 and secure a 12th French crown.

2019 US Open

One of the most dramatic finals in history saw Daniil Medvedev come from two sets and a break down to force a decider before Nadal won 7-5 6-4 5-7 4-6 6-4.

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