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AFP
September 10, 2019

Nadal wins thriller to clinch 19th Slam title

Sports

AFP
September 10, 2019

NEW YORK: Delivering one of his most dramatic major final performances, Rafael Nadal captured his 19th career Grand Slam title Sunday by winning his fourth US Open, outlasting Russia’s Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4.

The 33-year-old Spanish left-hander moved one shy of Roger Federer’s all-time men’s record 20 Grand Slam triumphs and became the second-oldest New York champion in the Open era after Ken Rosewall in 1970 at age 35.

“Has been one of the most emotional nights in my tennis career,” Nadal said. A video tribute in the wake of his gritty triumph moved Nadal to tears. “The way that the match became very dramatic at the end, that makes this day unforgettable,” Nadal said.

It took a supreme effort from the Spanish maestro, who nearly became the first player to drop the final after leading by two sets since Ted Schroeder in 1949 before winning a near five-hour thriller.

“This victory means a lot,” Nadal said. “And the way it happened. It was hard to control the nerves.” World number two Nadal took the top prize of $3.85 million and added to his US Open trophy haul from 2010, 2013 and 2017.

On a knife’s edge at 5-5 in the third set, Medvedev reeled off eight of the last nine points to force a fourth, breaking Nadal in the 12th game with a backhand winner. Nadal was broken in the 10th game of the fourth set to force a fifth when Medvedev blasted a sterling backhand return winner.

Nadal rescued three Medvedev break chances to hold in the second game of the fifth set, fired a backhand volley winner to break Medvedev in the fifth game and seized a 5-2 edge when Medvedev hit an overhead smash long.

Serving for the match, Nadal was broken when umpire Ali Nili issued Nadal a time violation for his first serve and the Spaniard sent his second long, the crowd booing Nili for his call. Nadal squandered two break and match points in the ninth game as the drama intensified.

Again serving for the match, Nadal rescued a break point then hit a forehand drop volley for his third match point chance and Medvedev sent a forehand return long to end matters. Nadal screamed and fell to the court on his back in joy and exhaustion.

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