Rafael Nadal's 19th Grand Slam trophy went from inevitable to suddenly in doubt in a thrill-a-minute US Open final. What had all the makings of a casual crowning morphed into a grueling contest thanks to Nadal's opponent, Daniil Medvedev, a man a decade younger and appearing in his first major title match. Down by two sets and a break, Medvedev shifted styles, upped his level against a rattled Nadal—and even received an unexpected boost from the Arthur Ashe Stadium spectators. Truly tested for the only time in the tournament, the No. 2-seeded Nadal managed to stop Medvedev's surge Sunday and hold off his historic comeback bid, pulling out a 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 victory in 4 hours, 50 minutes of highlight-worthy action and Broadway-worthy drama to collect his fourth championship at Flushing Meadows, the AP reports.
"One of the most emotional nights of my tennis career," said Nadal. "The last three hours of the match have been very, very intense, no?" Nadal said. "Very tough mentally and physically, too." Now at 19 majors—a total Medvedev called "outrageous"—the 33-year-old Nadal is merely one away from rival Roger Federer's record for men. Nadal says he wants to finish his career at No. 1 in the Grand Slam standings—ahead of Federer and Novak Djokovic, looming in third place currently with 16—but also insists he won't base his happiness on how it all shakes out in the end. This particular match ended the way he wanted it to. The journey just took more detours than anyone could have anticipated. It also, Nadal said, made "this day unforgettable, part of my history."
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