Delivering one of his most dramatic major final performances, Rafael Nadal captured his 19th career Grand Slam title Sunday by winning his fourth US Open, outlasting Russia’s Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4.
The 33-year-old Spanish left-hander moved one shy of Roger Federer’s all-time men’s record 20 Grand Slam triumphs and became the second-oldest New York champion in the Open era after Ken Rosewall in 1970 at age 35.
“Has been one of the most emotional nights in my tennis career,” Nadal said.
A video tribute in the wake of his gritty triumph moved Nadal to tears.
“The way that the match became very dramatic at the end, that makes this day unforgettable,” Nadal said.
“Watching all the success, all the moments that came to my mind, I tried to hold the emotion, but some moments was impossible.”
It took a supreme effort from the Spanish maestro, who nearly became the first player to drop the final after leading by two sets since Ted Schroeder in 1949 before winning a near five-hour thriller.
“This victory means a lot,” Nadal said. “And the way it happened. It was hard to control the nerves. The nerves were so high after having the match almost under control.”
World number two Nadal took the top prize of $3.85 million at Arthur Ashe Stadium and added to his US Open trophy haul from 2010, 2013 and 2017.
Nadal, who was in his fifth US Open championship match and 27th Grand Slam final, is the first man to claim five major titles after turning 30.
-Daniil Medvedev reaction-
Daniil Medvedev said the energy of the New York crowd helped instigate his stunning fightback that saw him fall just short against Rafael Nadal in a five-set classic in Sunday’s US Open final.
“First of all I just want to congratulate Rafa, 19th Grand Slam title is something unbelievable, outrageous,” Medvedev said.
“What you’ve done for tennis in general, it’s amazing for our sport. Thank you and congrats again.”
“To be honest in my mind, I was already thinking, ‘What do I say in the speech, it’s going to be in 20 minutes,” Medvedev recalled, having fallen two sets behind to Nadal.
“I was like I have to fight for every ball, and it went further but it didn’t go my way. I know earlier in the tournament I said a bad thing, and now it’s a good thing.
“It’s because of your energy that I’m here in the final. I mean, tonight is going to always be in my mind because I played in the biggest court in the tennis world.
“You guys were pushing me to prolong this match because you want to see more tennis. Because of you guys, I was fighting like hell.
“It’s electric. You were booing me for a reason. I can also change because I am a human being and I can make mistakes. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.”
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