NEW YORK (AFP/AP) - Calling it one of the most emotional nights of his 18-year career, Rafael Nadal celebrated a dramatic US Open final victory over Daniil Medvedev for his 19th Grand Slam title on Sunday (Sept 8).
The 33-year-old Spanish left-hander grabbed his fourth career title on the New York hardcourts in thrilling fashion, squandering a two-set lead before outlasting the Russian fifth seed 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 after 4hr 50min.
"I more or less had the match under control," Nadal, the second seed, said. "The way he was able to fight to change the rhythm of the match was incredible."
Nadal's head was in his hands as he became emotional in the moments after his epic triumph, feelings compounded when a tribute video of his Grand Slam titles was shown in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"Has been one of the most emotional nights in my tennis career, with that video, with all of you," he told a cheering crowd that chanted his name several times in the intense final set. "There's no stadium in the world that's more energetic than this one."
Outside of the French Open, where he took his 12th title in June, the US Open is the Slam title he has captured the most in his career.
"That's so important," Nadal said of his fourth US Open crown. "This victory means a lot. "And the way it happened. It was hard to control the nerves. The nerves were so high after having the match almost under control."
Nadal has dropped only one Grand Slam match out of more than 200 when he has won the first two sets, that loss coming to Fabio Fognini in the third round of the 2015 US Open.
But he nearly became the first man since 1949 to lose the US Open final after winning the first two sets when Medvedev mounted a charge, shifting styles and rattling the Spanish veteran.
Medvedev broke in the last game of each of the next two sets to force a fifth. But his charge came up just short.
Nadal broke to lead 3-2 in the fifth and again for 5-2. But he failed to serve out the victory there, double-faulting on break point, then couldn't convert two match points at 5-3.
At 5-4, he saved a break point, and finally converted his third championship point to earn his fourth trophy at Flushing Meadows.
Add that to 12 at the French Open, two at Wimbledon and one at the Australian Open, and Nadal is now only one major trophy behind his great rival Roger Federer for the most by a man in tennis history.
Meanwhile, Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka won the women's doubles championship. The duo defeated Victoria Azarenka and Ash Barty 7-5, 7-5 at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Mertens and Sabalenka lost only one set in the tournament and won their first Grand Slam title as a team. They faced only one other seeded team on their way to the title.