Rafael Nadal says his “unforgettable” US Open triumph against Daniil Medvedev has bolstered his legacy in tennis and admits it was “impossible” to hold in his emotions after his 19th Grand Slam title.
The 33-year-old Spaniard held off a thrilling fightback from first-time major finalist Medvedev to win in five sets on Sunday and seal his fourth title at Flushing Meadows.
Nadal collapsed onto his back in celebration after an absorbing near five-hour epic and cried courtside as a video of his major wins was played on the Arthur Ashe Stadium after the match.
“This trophy means everything to me today,” said Nadal.
“Personal satisfaction of the way that I resisted all these tough moments is very high.
“The emotions have been there watching all the success, all the moments that came to my mind… Yeah, I tried to hold the emotion, but in some moments it was impossible.”
Nadal appeared set to record a routine – if yet hard-fought – straight-sets victory when he led by two sets and a break before Medvedev hit back to provide a US Open classic.
“At the same time, Daniil created this moment too,” he said. “The way that he fought, the way that he played, is a champion way. Just well done for him. I really believe that he will have many more chances.”
Asked to describe the magnitude of his latest achievement, the world No 2 added: “The way that the match became very dramatic at the end, that makes this day unforgettable… part of my history of this sport.”
Focus inevitably shifted to the debate around which member of the ‘Big Three’ would finish their career with the most Grand Slam titles.
Nadal moved within one of tying 38-year-old Roger Federer’s all-time haul of 20 in the men’s game, while he moved three titles clear of world No 1 Novak Djokovic.
“I feel honoured to be part of this battle [with Federer and Djokovic]. But I really believe that I will not be happier or less happy if that happens or does not happen,” said the Spaniard, who first won a Grand Slam at the 2005 French Open.
“I am not going to practice every day or not play tennis for it. I am playing tennis because I love to play tennis.
“I can’t just think about Grand Slams, no? Tennis is more than Grand Slams. I need to think about the rest of the things.
“I play to be happy. Of course, the victory today makes me super happy. All the things that I achieved in my career are much more than what I ever thought and what I ever dreamed.”
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