As was expected, the 19-time Major champion Rafael Nadal will skip the upcoming US Open. Thus, the Spaniard will not defend the title won a year ago, keeping those 2000 points in his pocket and continuing preparations for Rome and Roland Garros on beloved clay.
A few hours earlier, the news came out about the Madrid Open cancelation, leaving some space for Rafa to change his mind and maybe enter the US Open, although that didn't happen. Nadal wasn't happy about the rules and regulations considering the coronavirus safety measures in New York, opting to stay at home and seek another chance of reaching Roger Federer's 20 Major titles.
In the last year's final, Rafa took down Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 in four hours and 49 minutes, collecting the 19th and so far the last Major title. Rafa became the fifth player in the Open era with four titles in New York, giving his 120% to overcome the young Russian.
Daniil had played over 20 matches in the previous six weeks, saving enough energy to challenge Rafa in the last three sets and produce a memorable final for the crowd on Arthur Ashe. Both players had more winners than unforced errors in an incredible mixture of attacking tennis and a mind-blowing defense, proving they were the best players on the planet.
Nadal was two sets to love ahead and with a break in the third before Daniil started to climb back, stealing the third set and setting up a decider in what could have been the most significant turnaround at the US Open in 70 years.
Nonetheless, Nadal managed to survive in the fifth set's opening service game and move over the top with a double break, barely bringing the victory home to fall to the ground in disbelief. The opening set lasted for more than an hour, bringing a grueling battle that offered two early breaks and a real conflict in the remaining games.
Nadal struggled to find the first serve, paying the price in the third game when Daniil grabbed a break.
The Russian couldn't stay in front for too long, though, spraying a backhand error in the next game to bring Rafa back to the positive side of the scoreboard, with three more chances on the return for world no.
2 at 4-3. Daniil repelled them all and survived another tough service game at 4-5 when he was two points from losing the set four times. After those two first service games, Rafa was in the zone behind the initial shot, delivering one good hold after another and finally finding the way to steal Medvedev's serve in game 12 for a 7-5 after 63 minutes.
Daniil was the more aggressive player again in set number two, wasting a break chance in the first game and finding himself under a lot of pressure as he couldn't do much in the next four return games. Rafa squandered no less than four chances at 2-1, battling hard and earning the desired break two games later when Daniil netted a forehand.
The youngster fell 4-2 down and allowed Nadal to close the set in game nine for a 7-5, 6-3 advantage, moving closer to the finish line. After four good holds at the beginning of the third set, Rafa grabbed a break in game five when Medvedev netted a backhand.
Getting broken only once so far, the Spaniard played a loose service game to waste the advantage immediately, bringing Daniil back to 3-3. Rafa had more chances to go ahead at 4-4 when the youngster repelled a couple of break chances for a massive momentum that would provide him that one extra step he had to take.
Medvedev held at love in game 11 and stole Nadal's serve at 15 with a backhand down the line winner in the next one for a 7-5, reducing the overall deficit after two hours and 53 minutes and preparing for more drama in the rest of a thrilling encounter.
The fourth set lasted for more than 50 minutes and it was a mighty close one, with Daniil winning one point more. He grabbed the only break to prevail, repelling two break chances at 2-2 and delivering that pivotal break in game ten after taking four straight points from 40-15 down.
The Russian closed the set with a return winner and was now a set away from one of the most remarkable comebacks in the Major finals' history, earning boost ahead of the deciding set. Facing an ultimate challenge, Rafa repelled three break points in the second game of the fifth set in a manner of a true champion.
That allowed him to take charge, deliver breaks in games five (his first after ten mediocre return games) and seven, opening a massive lead and serving for the title. Losing focus once again, the Spaniard received another time violation and suffered a break after a double fault to keep Medvedev in the encounter, prolonging what had already been an extraordinary clash.
Fighting like a lion, Daniil repelled two match points on serve with winners to reduce the deficit to 5-4 before Rafa finally sailed over the finish line after fending off a break chance in game ten, celebrating the title in what had been one of the longest US Open finals in history.