Daniil Medvedev dashed Novak Djokovic’s bid for a calendar year clean sweep of Grand Slam titles at the final hurdle and won his own maiden major at the US Open last night.
The Russian, 25, beat an emotional Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to complete a breakthrough fortnight in which he only dropped one set at Flushing Meadows.
Medvedev celebrated winning championship point by falling to the floor and performing the “dead fish”, a move borrowed from the Fifa video game series.
“Only legends will understand,” he said on court, before describing the buttons gamers must press on a controller to pull off the manoeuvre. “What I did after the match was L2 + left.”
Medvedev’s victory avenged Djokovic’s straight-sets defeat of him at this year’s Australian Open. He had also lost his other previous Grand Slam final, at the 2019 US Open against Rafael Nadal.
The world No2 has played his best tennis in New York and has also won over a crowd that has in the past been hostile – even if it was firmly behind Djokovic this time.
The Serb was not only aiming to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the calendar year set of Grand Slams but also move clear in the list of most men’s major titles. Defeat means he remains tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 for now.
Djokovic became overcome with emotion and cried into his towel during the third set as the crowd on Arthur Ashe Court urged him on.
“Even though I haven’t won the match I am the happiest man alive because you guys made me very special on the court,” he said afterwards.
“You guys touched my soul. I’ve never felt like this in New York. Thank you for your support. I love you.”
Medvedev explains ‘dead fish’ celebration from Fifa video game
Medvedev, known for his low-key celebrations, said he came up with the idea of doing the “dead fish” while on a good run at Wimbledon earlier this year.
“I was like, OK, if I’m going to win Wimbledon, to not celebrate is going to be too boring, because I do it all the time. I need to do something, but I want to make it special,” he added.
“I talked to the guys in the locker [room]. They play Fifa. They were like, ‘that’s legendary’. Everybody who I saw who plays Fifa thinks that’s legendary. That’s how I wanted to make it.”
Medvedev’s success also brought him a cheque for $2.5m, the biggest payday of his career.