US Open fans left aghast by Daniil Medvedev’s Nadal and Djokovic comment

Daniil Medvedev once left the US Open crowd astounded as he praised Novak Djokovic at the expense of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. After winning the 2021 US Open and securing his maiden Grand Slam title, Medvedev insisted Djokovic – who he defeated 6-4 6-4 6-4 – the ‘greatest’ player in tennis history to the surprise of the onlooking crowd.

Medvedev defeated Djokovic to deny the then-World No. 1 a 21st major title, which would have seen him break the three-way tie between himself, Federer and Nadal – the trio known as the ‘Big Three’ who dominated tennis and are perhaps the three greatest men’s players in the sport’s history.

After hoisting the trophy, Medvedev apologised to his Serbian rival for coming out on top. The Russian said: “First of all I want to say sorry because we all know what he was going for today, what he has accomplished this year and throughout your career. I have never said this to anybody but I will say it right now. For me you are the greatest player in the history.”

Medvedev’s comment led to a gasp around the court, given Federer and Nadal are two of the most popular sportspeople in history. Their rivalry has been heavily romanticised by tennis fans, with Djokovic seen as a gate-crashing force.

Known for his fiery yet dominant performances on the court, the all-conquering 36-year-old has clashed with fans throughout his career as he is considered the man defeating the beloved Federer and Nadal. The 23-time Grand Slam champion enjoys feeling the love from fans, but he often also appears to enjoy being the pantomine villain at each event. 

While the love for Nadal and Federer has often gotten under his skin, Djokovic received vocal support inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. The support left him emotional as he failed to halt Medvedev. 

“Thank you so much, guys,” Djokovic said. “I would like to start off by saying congratulations to Daniil. Amazing match, amazing tournament. If there is anyone that deserves a Grand Slam title right now it is you, so well done.

“To your team, you have an amazing team, you are one of the greatest guys on the tour, we get along very well. I wish you many more Grand Slams, many more majors to follow, and I am sure you will be on this stage again in the future.”

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He added: “I was thinking in both scenarios, visualising myself standing here in front of you guys and what would I say. I would like to say that tonight, 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. I have never felt like this is New York. I love you guys. Thank you so much for your support and everything you have done tonight for me. I love you and I will see you soon. Thank you.”

Djokovic is preparing to compete at the US Open as he eyes a third Grand Slam title in 2023 – and a record-extending 24th overall. The three-time US Open champion takes on Alexandre Muller in the first round of the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year on Monday night.

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