Rafael Nadal edges Medvedev for 4th US Open title, 19th Slam trophy

Nadal fell to the floor as the ball flew beyond the baseline, and was then visibly emotional when a montage of all his major titles was played on the big screens at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Rafael Nadal held on to win (7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4) his 19th Grand Slam over Daniil Medvedev at the U.S. Open on Sunday after a comeback by Medvedev.

Already the King of Clay, the Spaniard has been a master of the Flushing Meadows hardcourts this NY fortnight but he had to dig mighty deep to beat the Russian and bring his Grand Slam career tally to 19, just one behind Swiss Federer.

But this one did not come easily. Novak Djokovic, the youngest of the "Big Three" at 32-years-old, has a total of 16.

The last U.S. Open champion to rally from a two-set deficit in the final was Pancho Gonzales over Ted Schroeder in 1949. He looked beaten after going a double break down, but retrieved one and erased two match points, creating an opportunity to get back on serve as Nadal served for the title a second time.

And yet the drama here was real.

"In my mind I was already, OK, what do I say in the [runner-up] speech", said Medvedev, who had never before made it past the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

Sure seemed it might, with Nadal ahead by two sets and a break in the third at 3-2, playing like "a beast out there", as the No. 5-seeded Medvedev put it. But Medvedev broke back, continuing to charge around the court and send spectacular efforts over the net.

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"I was able to hold at the end the nerves because the nerves were so high after having the match nearly under control, 5-2, 5-4, break point".

But following his epic five-set loss to Rafael Nadal in Sunday's men's final, he was all class and incredibly humble. Naturally, he was forced to deal with another heart-in-throat break point, but came up with a stinging forehand that drew a long forehand from Medvedev.

Rafael Nadal won a five set stunner to capture his 19th Grand Slam trophy with the U.S. Open men's title defeating Daniil Medvedev.

Those struggles receded further into distant memories this year as he reached the semi-finals at all four majors for the first time since 2008, his five-set win over Medvedev moving him a step closer to history.

Now Nadal has the chance to draw level with 38-year-old Federer, who was nine titles better off than his long-time rival in 2007, at the Australian Open in January.

Victory would mark a first major title for the Russian.

As unpredictable as Medvedev can be, Nadal is a man of routine from the exact placing of water bottles to a twitchy pre-serve ritual.

This one ended the way he wanted it to.

  • Lawrence Cooper