Rafael Nadal beat Daniil Medvedev to win the 2019 US Open final on Sunday and in the process took home his 19th Grand Slam title. While Nadal ended the night victorious, Medvedev left feeling grateful and gave the crowd laughs.
Nadal defeated Medvedev, 7-5, 6-4, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 in a win that left the tennis legend in tears afterwards. When Medvedev was asked about his loss, he first mentioned the greatness of his opponent saying.
“First of all, I just want to congratulate Rafa,” he said. “Nineteen Grand Slam titles is something unbelievable. Outrageous.”
The ever expressive 23-year-old then brought humor to the stage as he pondered what highlights they would possibly show if he had won
“When I was looking on the screen and they were showing No. 1, No. 2… No. 19. I was like, if I would win, what would they show,” Medvedev said, getting laughs and cheers from fans in the stadium.
He went back on a serious note and acknowledged how many people Nadal has influenced over the course of his tennis career.
“Again, what you have done for tennis in general, I think 100 million kids watching you play want to play tennis. It’s amazing for our sport. Thank you and congrats again,” Medvedev said.
By the third set of the 2019 US Open it was not looking good for the underdog, and he knew it.
“To be honest, in my mind, I was already [thinking] ‘ok, what do I say in the speech. It’s going to be soon – in 20 minutes’ – losing in three sets in the first final, you know, trying to give a fight but not really. So I was like ok anyway ‘I have to fight for every ball – I have to see how it goes.'”
The fight lasted a bit longer for Medvedev, though, as he fought back and the match went five sets. As he said, it didn’t go his way, but he was appreciative of the experience and everyone in the stands watching. That’s a far cry from how Medvedev felt about the crowd earlier in the tournament.
“I know earlier in the tournament I said something kind of in a bad way and now I’m saying it in a good way, it’s because of your energy guys that I was here in the final,” he said, calling back to when he thanked a booing crowd for helping him continue a match.
Overall, Medvedev gave tennis fans humor, humility and maturity in his speech, transforming from the guy who appeared to put up the middle finger during a match and relished in being a villain to someone who was able to win over the US Open crowd.
“Tonight is going to be always in my mind because I played in the biggest court in the tennis world and in the third set where I was already thinking which speech should I give, you guys were pushing me to prolong this match because you want to see more tennis and because of you guys I was fighting like hell,” he said.