Nadal inches closer to Federer's all-time slam record

Ross Houston
September 11, 2019

Nadal made sure of that, just barely, by snuffing out Medvedev's comeback to win the final Grand Slam match of the 2010s: 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4.

Medvedev saved two championship points to force Nadal to serve it out, and nearly wrecked his moment again, having a break point, but the final moment would be the Spaniard's, saving the break point and converting his third match point for an emotional finish to one of the longest finals at the US Open.

But the rest of us can - and should - track it and care.

"He's in a better position today", one of Nadal's coaches, Francisco Roig, said after his guy edged Medvedev in a 4-hour, 50-minute epic. "Sooner or later, they will win Slams". "It's a long way, but he's in the best position". Over the last three years, however, Nadal has five Slams to his name as against Djokovic's four and Federer's three.

Medvedev had break points in the second game of the final set but then fell a double break behind only to have an opportunity to regain parity, before he was eventually beaten on Nadal's third championship point.

"You can have fear, but it's more when you are in the down moment like I was this year once".

Djokovic's tally: seven from the Australian Open, five from Wimbledon, three from the US Open, one from the French Open. The last time someone won the Open after being down 2-0 was Pancho Gonzales in 1949. The celebrations were reminiscent of tennis kings, too: the usually bashful Nadal shed Federer-like tears when the presentation ceremony in NY included a highlight reel of his major wins.

What's most impressive, really, is how this trio has ruled the sport for about 15 years. "I take pride in being part of this fight". He's also the first man to win five majors after turning 30. "I am playing tennis because I love to play tennis", Nadal said afterwards. Djokovic, the defending champion and No. 1 seed, stopped while way behind in his fourth-round match, citing pain in his left shoulder.

Federer, dealing with a bad back, bowed out in five sets in the quarter-finals.

Two 23-year-olds reached the semifinals, Medvedev and Matteo Berrettini, so maybe this was the time for a younger man to hold a trophy?

"Tomorrow I'm eating a Russian salad".

"But the Russians are good at making coats, not playing tennis", he added, referring to Nadal's Russian opponent.

"I knew I have to leave my heart out there for them, also".

"You will see when Rubi says 'Joaquin, what's going on?', and I tell him that I stayed up watching the cracking tennis [match]".

When many were starting to think that the 33-year-old had burned out, he turned his classic style back on to beat the youngster 6-4 in the final set and win the Open at Flushing Meadows. Even every game, to win, is tough.

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