NEW YORK: Rafael Nadal captured his 19th career Grand Slam title in thrilling fashion on Sunday by winning the US Open final, outlasting Russia’s Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 to seize his fourth crown in New York.
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.
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. But 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 Frederick Schroeder in 1949.
The 19th Grand Slam title that seemed so inevitable for Rafael Nadal during the first two-plus sets of the U.S. 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.
A champion for the ages and a true legend of the sport.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 9, 2019
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 Meadow
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.
Sure seemed it might, with Nadal ahead by two sets and a break in the third at 3-2. But the No. 5-seeded Medvedev, a 23-year-old from Russia, did not go gently into the night. He broke right back to 3-all, then again to claim that set and yet again to end the fourth.
Not since 1949 had a man won the U.S. Open final after trailing by two sets to one. Never before had Medvedev won a five-set match. Only once before had Nadal lost a Grand Slam match after taking the opening two sets.
Even at the very end — or when everyone, save Medvedev, perhaps, figured it was the very end — Nadal had trouble closing things out. After breaking to lead 3-2 in the fifth, in a game Medvedev led 40-love, Nadal broke again and served for the championship at 5-2.
The way this back-and-forth tale was spun, though, it probably was inevitable that Medvedev would break there. And so he did, because Nadal double-faulted on break point after he was docked a serve for his third time violation of the evening.