Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Daniil Medvedev’s US Open triumph, which also ended the country’s 7-year wait for a Grand Slam title. Medvedev outclassed world No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the final to end the Serbian great’s hopes of clinching the calendar slam.
President Vladimir Putin hailed a “brilliant victory” in an official message of congratulations.
“On the path to the final of this prestigious competition, you demonstrated the highest class of skill and perseverance in reaching your aims and in the deciding match you performed in a confident and collected manner, not leaving a chance to a strong and renowned opponent,” Putin wrote. “That is how real champions play!”
By beating Djokovic in Sunday’s final, Medvedev became the first Russian to win a major title since Maria Sharapova in 2014, and the first Russian man since Marat Safin in 2005. It was a long wait for a country which once prided itself on its strength in depth in the men’s rankings.
Medvedev had to cope with a New York crowd which had expected to see Djokovic complete an historic calendar-year sweep of major titles. Some fans jeered Medvedev as he closed in on victory.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was among those congratulating Medvedev on his composure, highlighting his warm words for Djokovic — whom Medvedev called “the greatest tennis player in history” — during the trophy presentation.
“I was impressed by Daniil Medvedev’s speech during the presentation. He talked about his opponent with such respect and dignity, paying tribute to the the skill and achievements of Novak Djokovic,” Zakharova wrote on Facebook.
Between 1996 and 2005, Russians won four men’s Slam titles through Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Safin. After that, Safin, Nikolay Davydenko and Mikhail Youzhny reached Slam semifinals but none played another major final.
As Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic dominated the scene, Russian men’s tennis quietly declined. For parts of 2015, there was no Russian player in the top 50 of the ATP Tour rankings.
Now there are two in the top five, with Medvedev at No. 2 and Andrey Rublev at No. 5. Aslan Karatsev was a semifinalist at this year’s Australian Open and Karen Khachanov won the Olympic silver medal last month. (With AP inputs)