Daniil Medvedev said the energy of the New York crowd helped instigate his stunning fightback that saw him fall just short against Rafael Nadal in a five-set classic in Sunday’s US Open final.
The Russian fifth seed dropped the first two sets to Nadal in his first Grand Slam final but charged back to force a decider, almost erasing a double break deficit in the fifth set before going down 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4.
“First of all I just want to congratulate Rafa, 19th Grand Slam title is something unbelievable, outrageous,” Medvedev said.
“What you’ve done for tennis in general, it’s amazing for our sport. Thank you and congrats again.”
Medvedev has experienced a love-hate relationship with fans at Flushing Meadows after an obscene gesture in a third-round match prompted loud boos, to which the Russian later responded with a taunt of his own.
But the 23-year-old won the crowd over during his run to the final, where he was attempting to become the youngest Grand Slam champion since Juan Martin del Potro won the US Open in 2009.
“To be honest in my mind, I was already thinking, ‘What do I say in the speech, it’s going to be in 20 minutes,” Medvedev recalled, having fallen two sets behind to Nadal.
“I was like I have to fight for every ball, and it went further but it didn’t go my way. I know earlier in the tournament I said a bad thing, and now it’s a good thing.
“It’s because of your energy that I’m here in the final. I mean, tonight is going to always be in my mind because I played in the biggest court in the tennis world.
“You guys were pushing me to prolong this match because you want to see more tennis. Because of you guys, I was fighting like hell.
“It’s electric. You were booing me for a reason. I can also change because I am a human being and I can make mistakes. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.”
Watch the full speech here