Novak Djokovic stopped one step away from the finish line, physically and mentally emptied in front of the enormous weight of history. The world number 1 fell sharply to Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 US Open final, failing to become the second man in the Open Era to win all four Grand Slams in the same year.
That it was not Nole's day was evident from the first exchanges, also thanks to an amazing version of the Russian who entered the field with a perfect attitude. This defeat also prevented Nole from overtaking eternal rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the all-time rankings for the first time.
The 34-year-old from Belgrade indulged in heartfelt tears during the last change of pitch, as his name was praised by 24,000 spectators at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Speaking on Eurosport, Dominic Thiem - winner of the 2020 edition - analyzed in detail the keys to the final.
The Austrian was unable to participate in the last Grand Slam of the season due to a wrist injury that has been tormenting him for several months.
Thiem opens up on Novak Djokovic
"Daniil Medvedev didn't care about all that," Dominic Thiem said.
"He played sensationally from the beginning to the end, didn't do anything stupid the whole match and, on top of that, he shot winners right and left." Daniil Medvedev won over 80% of his first-serve points in the match and went the entire first set without dropping a single point on that shot.
The Russian also broke Novak Djokovic's serve early in the match, setting the tone for what was to come. "In addition, he served really well against the best return player," Thiem said. "He completely deserved to win it.
With the early break in the first set, he immediately got the momentum on his side and then played at a consistently really, really high level." Turning his attention to Novak Djokovic, the Austrian asserted it was evident that the Serb was under an enormous amount of pressure.
"On the other hand, you could see the tension Novak Djokovic was under - especially at the last exchange, where he was in tears," Thiem said. "We saw what was going on inside him; also what he had accumulated in the last weeks and months," Thiem said.
"That is simply inhuman." Going by history, the Serb always finds a way to bounce back to winning ways. We wish him all the best for the rest of the season and in the future.