'It means a lot': Rafael Nadal in tears after extraordinary US Open triumph

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

Rafael Nadal has thwarted an extraordinary Daniil Medvedev comeback to win the US Open final - the 19th major of his career.

Nadal surged to a two-set lead early in Sunday’s final and looked well on track for a straight-sets victory.

‘JUST AWFUL’: Fans rage over ‘disgusting’ moment in US Open final

But showing incredible guts and determination, Medvedev stormed back into the match to send it to a fifth.

The championship was then decided in the fifth game of the final set, with Nadal coming back from 40-15 down to break Medvedev and hold on to win the title.

Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal with their respective trophies. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The Spanish legend won 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 in four hours and 51 minutes.

“Absolutely incredible,” John McEnroe said in commentary.

Nadal burst into tears after a video tribute was played on the big screen inside Arthur Ashe Stadium after the match.

“It has to be one of the most emotional nights of my tennis career,” Nadal said.

“This victory means a lot and especially with the way the match became so difficult, so tough ... it has been a crazy match, no? I’m just emotional.”

The tennis world was in shock over Medvedev’s comeback and Nadal’s ensuing victory.

Nadal edges closer to Federer record

Nadal’s win takes him within one major of Federer’s all-time record of 20.

It also extends the dominance of tennis's big three of Nadal, Federer and Novak Djokovic to 12 straight slams.

But Nadal was forced to fight tooth and nail to prevent Medvedev from striking a massive blow for the sport's next-gen stars.

Medvedev was striving to become the first man in his 20s to claim a singles slam since Andy Murray won his second Wimbledon title in 2016.

Riding a wave of confidence after four consecutive hardcourt finals over the American summer, 23-year-old Medvedev threatened to pull off a nigh-on impossible comeback win over the mighty Majorcan after taking the third and fourth sets.

Nadal had won more than 200 matches for just one defeat after establishing two-set leads during his glittering career.

The Muscovite, though, had Nadal on the ropes - and feuding with the chair umpire in frustration after receiving a series of time violations for exceeding the 25-second limit between points - early in the fifth set.

Even after dropping four successive games to trail 5-2 in the tense deciding set, Medvedev wasn't done.

Rattled by another time sanction from American official Ali Nili, Nadal double-faulted on break point to offer Medvedev a lifeline.

Alas the world No.2 proved an immovable object against the irresistible force, finally prevailing on his third match point - when the Russian's forehand return salied over the baseline - to add another US Open trophy to go with his titles in 2010, 2013 and 2017.

Nadal's 19th major leaves the 33-year-old in position to catch Federer at the Australian Open in January.

He's never been closer to his Swiss rival.

At one point, after he won the fourth of his five titles in New York in 2007, Federer was nine slams clear of Nadal.

Federer still had four more majors than Nadal as recent as after winning his 20th at last year's Australian Open.

But in accruing his 11th and 12th French Open titles in 2018 and 2019 - to go with twin successes at Wimbledon in 2008 and 2010, a 2009 Australian triumph - and saluting again at Flushing Meadows, the Spaniard is suddenly within striking distance of joining Federer as the most successful performer in men's grand slam history.

with agencies