Novak Djokovic was ‘the happiest man alive’ despite losing to Medvedev in 2021

Novak Djokovic will face Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final two years after they met on the exact same stage. It was the Medvedev who defeated the three-time champion in New York, lifting his first – and so far only – Grand Slam title. During the match, Djokovic was reduced to tears as he received overwhelming support from the crowd and he later said it meant more than winning the title.

This year, Djokovic returned to the US Open for the first time since 2021. And he now finds himself in the exact same position he did last time he was in Flushing Meadows – facing Medvedev in the final.

In that match, the 36-year-old found himself crying in front of the 23,000-strong Arthur Ashe Stadium. The tears started before the contest was even over, as Djokovic became emotional during a changeover before his opponent stepped up to serve for the title.

And it continued after the final point was played with the 23-time Grand Slam champion sobbing into his towel while sitting on his bench after Medvedev won 6-4 6-4 6-4. Djokovic carried on crying throughout his runner-up speech but he explained that they were happy tears – a result of the love he felt from the fans.

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“Even though I have not won the match, my heart is filled with joy and I am the happiest man alive because you guys made me feel very special on the court. You guys touched my soul,” he told the crowd.

At the time, Djokovic was bidding to win what then would have been a record 21st men’s Major trophy. More importantly, he was bidding to become the first man in 52 years to complete the Calendar Grand Slam title. But he said that the support meant as much as lifting the trophy.

“I felt something I never felt in my life here in New York,” Djokovic later explained. “The crowd made me very special. They pleasantly surprised me. 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.

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“That’s the reason on the changeover I just teared up. The emotion, the energy was so strong. It’s as strong as winning 21 Grand Slams. That’s how I felt, honestly. I felt very, very special. They touched my heart, honestly.”

The world No 2 will be hoping that he receives the same support when he returns to Arthur Ashe Stadium but this time around he’ll want to reverse the scoreline and defeat Medvedev with another record on the line. If Djokovic wins the title, he will equal Margaret Court’s all-time standing for most Grand Slam titles in tennis history with 24. He already shares the Open Era record of 23 with Serena Williams.

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