US Open 2021: who won the men’s final between Djokovic and Medvedev - and L2 + left FIFA celebration explained

Medvedev mimicked the “Dead Fish celebration”, achieved by pressing L2 + left at the same time after scoring a goal in FIFA; ‘only legends will understand,’ he said

Daniil Medvedev celebrates with the championship trophy after defeating Novak Djokovic to win the Men’s Singles final match (Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

After Emma Raducanu’s inspirational win at the US Open, another stunning result has been provided to tennis fans on the men’s side of the competition.

Novak Djokovic was attempting to become the first man ever to win a 21st grand slam title, and the first for more than 50 years to complete the calendar Grand Slam as he took on opponent Daniil Medvedev in the tournament final.

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But the Russian was able to overpower Djokovic on the court in New York on Sunday (12 September), and walked away with his first ever grand slam title.

Here is everything you need to know about it.

Who is Daniil Madvedev?

Medvedev is just the second man born in the 1990s to win a slam singles title after last year’s champion Dominic Thiem, and only the third along with Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka to beat one of the big three in a slam final since Juan Martin Del Potro defeated Roger Federer in New York 12 years ago.

Medvedev was born in Moscow in 1996, and when he was just nine years old, his mother saw an advert for group tennis lessons at the pool where he was taking swimming lessons, and his father encouraged him to enrol.

Medvedev studied physics and maths at a specialised school before graduating early and enrolling in economics and commerce at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

He later dropped out to focus on his tennis, and then switched to the Russian State University of Physical Education, Sport, Youth, and Tourism, where he received a diploma as coach.

He then moved with his family to France where he trained at the tennis academy.

The 25-year old is currently ranked by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) as the world No. 2, a career-high singles ranking first achieved in March 2021.

He has won thirteen ATP Tour singles titles, and first participated in a Major tournament at Wimbledon in 2017, where he defeated world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka.

How did the match play out?

Djokovic reacts after Medvedev won their Men’s Singles final match (Photo: KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

After giving himself a glimmer of hope by pulling back to 5-4 in the third set, Djokovic sat on his chair and sobbed with sheer gratitude.

A game later, Medvedev celebrated a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory, and with it his first grand slam title.

The crunch moments came early in the second. Djokovic had Medvedev at 0-40 in the second game but, unusually for a man who has a sixth sense for striking at moments of weakness, he could not take advantage.

After missing two break points in the fourth game, the frustration that had been building exploded out of the 34-year-old, who pounded his racket repeatedly on the court before dropping serve again.

Djokovic had trailed Stefanos Tsitsipas by two sets to love in the French Open final before turning things around but here he was quickly 4-0 down in the third.

Medvedev wobbled at the finish line, double-faulting twice in a row from match point at 5-2 after pausing for heckling from the crowd. He double-faulted again on his second chance two games later before Djokovic netted on the third opportunity.”

Medvedev said: “I started cramping at 5-3, I think because of the pressure at 5-2 where I had match points. My legs were gone after 5-3. At 5-4, left leg, I almost couldn’t walk.

“Again, 40-15, that’s two match points. I was like, ‘Come on, go for an ace, just try to make it’. I had a huge double fault. OK, I have one more. Just try to make a first serve. I made it and I’m really happy.”

He fell to the court in celebration in what he later revealed to be an imitation of the FIFA video game but was fully mindful of the moment, and his first act of the trophy presentation was to apologise for ruining Djokovic’s dream before declaring him the greatest player of all time.

The celebration Medvedev mimicked from the series of footballing video games is called the “Dead Fish celebration”; you can achieve it in the game by pressing L2 + left at the same time after scoring a goal.

“Only legends will understand. What I did after the match was L2 + left,” Medvedev said to close out his US Open champion speech.

Why did Djokovic cry?

Medvedev drops to the ground in celebration of his win over Djokovic (Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

Addressing the crowd through tears, Djokovic said: “I would like to say that tonight, even though I have not won the match, my heart is filled with joy and I’m the happiest man alive.”

At his press conference later the Serbian explained why it had meant so much to him, saying: “Of course, part of me is very sad. It’s a tough one to swallow, this loss, considering everything that was on the line.

“But, on the other hand, I felt something I never felt in my life here in New York. The crowd made me (feel) very special. I did not expect anything, but the amount of support and energy and love I got from the crowd was something that I’ll remember forever.”

Djokovic dropped six sets on his way to the final and spent five and a half hours longer on court than Medvedev, who is nine years his junior, and the last hurdle proved simply beyond him.

Djokovic said: “I was just below par with my game. My legs were not there. I was trying. I did my best. I made a lot of unforced errors. I had no serve really.

“If you’re playing someone like Medvedev, who hits his spots so well, just aces, gets a lot of free points on his first serve, you’re constantly feeling pressure on your service games. It was just one of those days where unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.”

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