Sports

Nadal motivated by love of game, not Grand Slam record

Nadal motivated by love of game, not Grand Slam record

Daniil Medvedev lunges to return a shot to Rafael Nadal during the men's singles final of the U.S. Open on Sunday.

Nadal broke to lead 3-2 in the fifth and again for 5-2. He had never before won a five-set match and Nadal had lost only twice from two sets up in his career. The 33-year-old Spaniard came into the final on a 10-match winning streak.

Rafael Nadal is seeking his fourth U.S. Open title since 2010 after defeating Matteo Berrettini in the semifinals Friday.

The 2012 US Open final, in which Andy Murray beat Djokovic, and the 1988 US Open final, in which Mats Wilander beat Ivan Lendl, were both four hours, 54 minutes long.

What's more, The Big Three plus honorary members Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray have won 57 of the past 59 majors beginning with the 2005 French Open, with only Marin Cilic and Juan del Potro breaking through.

In the sport where youth is served (no, that is not the title of a cookbook), 30-somethings Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have combined to win 12 consecutive majors through the past three calendars.

Only Nadal and Andre Agassi can say they have a career Grand Slam and an Olympic men's singles gold medal, Nadal having claimed his in 2008 at Beijing.

"I know I have to leave my heart out there for them".

"For a good part of the match, I felt up to the test", said Berrettini, a 23-year-old from Rome.

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In addition to reaching the brink of Federer's mark, Nadal moved one shy of the Open era record five US Open titles won by Federer, Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras.

"This trophy means everything to me today", said Nadal, who has now won four titles at Flushing Meadows.

"You win, you lose". Normally, I take it for the last thing but today it's going to be the first thing, thank you very, very much everybody in this stadium, [you] have been wonderful energy.

Nadal fell to the floor as the ball flew beyond the baseline, and was then visibly emotional when a montage of all his major titles was played on the big screens at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

After taking his third match point, Nadal collapsed to the court in celebration, covering his face as contemplated another famous victory which epitomised all of his fighting spirit.

Nadal was broken in the 10th game of the fourth set to force a fifth when Medvedev blasted a sterling backhand return victor. Medvedev, wearing red tape on his left thigh, broke Nadal for a 2-1 lead but Nadal broke back to make it 2-2.

So, a reporter wanted to know later, was Nadal already thinking ahead to how to come back in the next set?

Speaking in his post-match media conference, Nadal said: "At the end with the video, the crowd that have always been awesome, all these facts that make the moment super special".


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