I barely saw Novak Djokovic yesterday. In truth, I didn’t see him at all. Not even his shadow.
That’s how ghastly the sight was in Monday’s men’s tennis finals. Much like the shocking two-set loss of Fil-Canadian Leylah Fernandez to Britain’s Emma Raducanu (6-4, 6-3) in the women’s title duel on Sunday.
So visible was the brilliance of Daniil Medvedev that he literally rendered Djokovic invisible in the midst of the Russian’s utterly gruesome straight-set rout of the world’s No. 1 from Serbia. Before they met for the 141st U.S. Open crown, Djokovic, deflected in his bid for an all-time best 21 majors, had strung up 27 straight Grand Slam wins.
Even the star-studded crowd of 24,000 that jam-packed the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, New York City—the largest tennis arena in the world—couldn’t believe their eyes. They kept yelling like a search party would, armed with flash lights and hound dogs looking for a missing person in the woods: Djokovic.
Statistics don’t lie. In almost all departments of the game, Djokovic was way, way behind.
After winning the first two sets so convincingly against a mostly erratic Djokovic, Medvedev quickly raced to a 5-1 lead in Set 3 before cruising to a 6-4 title-clincher capped by a massive 16-6 edge in aces and a runaway 38-27 margin in winners.
So ghastly was the Djokovic meltdown that I won’t be surprised if Hollywood star Tom Cruise, watching from a VIP box, would shortly cook up a script out of it in his next “Mission Impossible” flick.
But it’d be impossible for Cruise to reboot fact into fiction because the truth is Medvedev was not anymore your film’s typical always-villain Russian KGB thug. Instead, this time, Medvedev was the gallant hero in a riveting twist of role reversals.
He outdid himself—surely energized on this day being his third wedding anniversary. His comely wife, in an all-white dress, was at ringside.
After clinically disposing Djokovic, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, acing it a bit on the third championship point on his serve, Medvedev, 25, made himself more than your standard hero by delivering the compliment for the ages—directed no less at Djokovic, 34, who cried in the second set in a burst of emotion.
“I have never said this to anyone before,” said Medvedev during the awarding ceremonies, looking the still-tearful Djokovic in the eye. “To me, you are the greatest in history.”
And Medvedev’s anniversary gift to his wife?
A cool $2.5 million for winning his first Grand Slam on his third finals appearance. Well done, Honey.