Novak Djokovic explains reason for breakdown in US Open final

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Pictured here, Novak Djokovic is reduced to tears during the US Open final.
Novak Djokovic's shot at tennis history ended in tears during the US Open final. Pic: Getty

Novak Djokovic has rarely enjoyed the love and warmth of tennis crowds like his two greatest rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

The sad irony for Djokovic in his heartbreaking US Open final defeat to Daniil Medvedev, is that on the rare occasion he failed to deliver on the biggest stage, the crowd was well and truly behind the World No.1.

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Perhaps sensing they were about to witness something special, the crowd rallied behind Djokovic from the moment he stepped on court, showering him with cheers and chants of his nickname: "Nole, Nole, Nole".

Djokovic had won 10 of 10 matches in slams this year after losing the opening set but could not make it 11 - despite the help of a crowd that had never really embraced Djokovic the way they had wrapped their arms around Federer and Nadal in the past.

During the final changeover, with his hopes all but dashed, emotions got the better of the Serb who held a towel over his face and cried, clearly overwhelmed by the support he was getting from the crowd.

The 20-time grand slam champion explained afterwards that he had never experienced such a reception from the crowd inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, and it contributed to his breakdown on court at the end of the match.

"I felt something I never felt in my life here in New York," Djokovic said.

"The crowd made me (feel) very special.

"I did not expect anything, but the amount of support and energy and love I got from the crowd was something that I'll remember forever."

Djokovic was left in tears after his taxing bid - both physically and emotionally - to become the first man since 1969 to win the year's four majors ended in a surprisingly one-sided loss to Medvedev.

Novak Djokovic is seen here breaking down in tears during his loss to Daniil Medvedev in the US Open men's final.
Novak Djokovic (pictured) broke down in tears during play before his loss to Daniil Medvedev in the US Open men's final. (Images: ESPN)

The shock straight sets defeat also prevented Djokovic overtaking Federer and Nadal by winning a record 21st grand slam title.

Despite his obvious heartbreak at coming so close but ultimately falling short, Djokovic said he was relieved that the intense pressure to create history was behind him now.

"Relief," the 34-year-old Djokovic told reporters when asked what his emotions were after the match.

"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...

"At the same time I felt sadness, disappointment, and also gratitude for the crowd and for that special moment that they've created for me on the court."

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Sad end to Novak Djokovic's quest for history 

After scooping the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles this year, Djokovic arrived in New York in pursuit of the full set of slams, but a 6-4 6-4 6-4 defeat meant the Serb's calendar grand slam dream died.

Australian legend Rod Laver, the last man to achieve that feat in singles, 52 years ago, was in the crowd to witness what most anticipated would be a momentous moment in tennis history.

Instead, it was momentous for Medvedev, the 25-year-old finally a champion at the highest level to become the first Russian male to claim a grand slam title since Marat Safin triumphed at the Australian Open in 2005.

"It's a tough one to swallow, this loss, considering everything that was on the line," Djokovic, who was bidding to become just the third man after Don Budge (1938) and Laver (1962 and 1969) to secure a true grand slam.

The result also means Djokovic remains tied with his great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 slam titles - the 34-year-old being served notice here that a new generation is rising, headed by world No.2 Medvedev.

It was a sizzling afternoon in Arthur Ashe Stadium, the temperature taking a leap a day on from British qualifier Emma Raducanu's triumph in the women's final, and Djokovic was feeling the heat.

Djokovic had said before stepping on court that he hoped to bring the "best version of myself" and promised he was "ready for the battle", but he was running on close to empty at times on Sunday.

"My legs were not there. I was trying. I did my best.. I was below par with everything, to be honest. So just one of these days where unfortunately, yeah, wasn't meant to be," he said.

with agencies

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