Novak Djokovic was just one win away from matching a feat achieved 52 years ago. Having won the Australian, French, and Wimbledon titles, Djokovic was now on the cusp of not just a record 21st Grand Slam but he was about to match Rod Laver’s Calendar Grand Slam which he achieved in 1969. But, in a display of sublime Tennis, he was thwarted by Daniil Medvedev of Russia. The second seed played clinical Tennis and ensured that Djokovic’s attempt at a Calendar Grand Slam would be thwarted. Medvedev won his maiden Grand Slam title by winning the US Open title in straight sets 6-4,6-4,6-4.
After the match, Djokovic explained that it was a relief the tournament was over. “Relief. I was glad it was over because the build-up for this tournament and everything that mentally, emotionally I had to deal with throughout the tournament in the last couple of weeks was just a lot. It was a lot to handle,” Djokovic said. The loss means that the trio of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic are level on 20 Grand Slam titles. Heading into 2022, with age not on their side, it remains to be seen whether any of the three can add on to their Grand Slam tally.
It was sweet revenge for Daniil Medvedev, who lost to Djokovic in the Australian Open final earlier in the year. From the very beginning, Medvedev was calm and much fitter than the Serb, who looked fatigued. Djokovic had to fight back from four-set matches from round three to the quarterfinal. In the semi-final, he overcame Alexander Zverev in five sets which seemed to have worked in Medvedev’s favor.
Medvedev lost only three points on his serve in the first set. He was dominating Djokovic from the baseline and was also returning the Serb’s shots brilliantly. Djokovic tried to employ the serve and volley game but Medvedev countered that as well. As the set wore on, Djokovic looked out of sorts and Medvedev won it 6-4.
The pattern is repeated in the second set as well. Djokovic failed to capitalize on three break points and he ended up losing his composure. At the end of the day, that situation saw him lose the second set as well by a similar margin. Medvedev raced to a 5-2 lead in the third set and was serving for the championship. But, he double-faulted and Djokovic held serve to make it 5-4. At the second time, Medvedev calmly served out the match and clinched the title. Medvedev became the third Russian after Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin to win a Grand Slam title.
For Djokovic, two glorious chances at history were missed in the space of one month. The world No.1 was attempting the golden Grand Slam in which he would be aiming to win the gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics 2020. But, Zverev defeated him in the semi-final to dent his golden slam chances. In the very next match, he lost to Pablo Carreno Busta to leave Tokyo empty-handed.
In the US Open, he reached the final but the fatigue and all the previous exertions finally caught up with Djokovic. Thus, in the history books, Rod Laver continues to remain the only individual in the Open Era to have won the Calendar Grand Slam which he achieved in 1969. On the other hand, Steffi Graf remains the only individual in the history of the game to have achieved the Golden Calendar Slam. In 1988, she won all four Grand Slams as well as the Olympic gold medal in Seoul.
But, the year still remains brilliant for Djokovic. He became the first individual in the history of the Open Era to win all four Grand Slams twice. Djokovic has now been the world number one for 337 weeks which is a new record. But, the chance to cement his place as one of the most legendary players of all time will have to wait for one more year.