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Medvedev dismisses Djokovic, hecklers for first Slam title

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Winner Russia’s Daniil Medvedev (right) and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic hold their trophies after the 2021 US Open Tennis tournament men’s final match on Sunday. AFP

Medvedev dismisses Djokovic, hecklers for first Slam title

Being disrupted by hecklers while serving for the match only made Daniil Medvedev’s first Grand Slam title that much sweeter when it came Sunday at the expense of Novak Djokovic in the US Open final.

World number two Medvedev ripped top-ranked Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to deny the Serbian star the first Grand Slam sweep since 1969 and a men’s record 21st career major title.

“He definitely was not at his best. We saw him playing better,” Medvedev said. “Question is, if he would be, would I be able to cope up with him? We can never know now. I’m just happy to win.”

The breakthrough came in Medvedev’s third Slam final after losses to Rafael Nadal in the 2019 US Open final and Djokovic in February’s Australian Open final.

“A lot of happiness. That’s my first Grand Slam,” Medvedev said. “So I’m really happy. Means a lot to me. I’m definitely going to be celebrating the next few days.”

It also came after some spectators tried to disrupt him as he served for the match in the final set. Medvedev double faulted on two match points before hitting a service winner for the triumph.

“It was definitely tough,” Medvedev said. “I knew that the only thing I can do is focus. Never know what would happen if it would be 5-all, if I would start to get crazy or whatever.

“I knew I have to focus on myself, on what I have to do to win the match. I do think it was not against me. It was more for him. They wanted to see their guy win a calendar Grand Slam.

“But, yeah, I definitely made some double-faults because of it. That makes it even more sweet that finally I managed to pass a first serve on the third-match point.”

Medvedev has never been ranked higher than second, but there’s a sense his Slam breakthrough might inspire a fight to claim the number one spot – one day.

“I’m just happy to win a major,” he said. “That’s not my first goal in my mind to try to achieve it this year. If I manage to do it one day, it’s great.”

But beating Djokovic with tennis history at stake will give Medvedev a boost, he expects.

“It definitely makes it sweeter,” said Medvedev.

“For the confidence and for my future career, knowing that I beat somebody who was 27-0 in a year in Grand Slams, I lost to him in Australia, he was going for huge history, and knowing that I managed to stop him – it definitely makes it sweeter and brings me confidence for what is to come.”

‘Not magic things’

Medvedev’s coach, Frenchman Gilles Cervara, expects to see a higher level.

“To beat Novak, in Grand Slam, it’s a big thing. In final, it’s another big thing,” Cervara said. “I guess it will makes him be at another level also. For sure it will be different.”

Cervara felt Medvedev lacked the fire to compete with Djokovic in Australia but was at peak form for the rematch.

“He was ready to compete and to be at high level,” Cervara said. “More mental part, energy part. We had couple strategies, play more down the middle, to not open so much angle and to run a lot.

“There’s not magic things. You have to play at your best, have quality in your shots, know that strategy can change during the match because Novak will adapt.”

Medvedev said the usual tactical talk went from five or 10 minutes to 30 before Djokovic.

“He’s so good that every match is different. He changes his tactics, changes his approach,” Medvedev said.

“Sometimes you have to be aggressive, sometimes defensive. I had a clear plan which did seem to work.”

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