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UNITED STATES TENNIS OPEN MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP

By Arnie Leshin 
If you know your tennis, a men’s 3-set match can be closer than it reveals. 
 
Take legendary No. 1 again, 36-year-old Novak Djokovic’s sweep of Daniil Medvedev, a rising Russia a dozen years younger and currently ranked  seventh. The scores? 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3, but don’t be led to believe it wasn’t a tight tussle. 
 
Why, because it was. It proved to be an exciting encounter in the finals of the annual United States Open played Sunday afternoon at the Billie Jean King Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens, a borough of New York and once the site of the World’s Fair. 
 
Djokovic, who now switches back to No. 1 after Medvedev downed then-No. 1 Carlos Alcarez in Saturday’s semifinals in Arthur Ashe Stadium, the same site as the finale. 
 
As the previous days women’s championship was, this, too, brought a full house, and along with the players, working up a sweat under the heavy humidity conditions. 
 
As for the drama, well it was similar to Coco Gauff’s comeback 3-set win over Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka in their title match. Here, too, despite the setback, Sabalenka claimed the No. 1 spot following Gauff’s semis win over the then-top ranked player in the semifinals. 
 
Back to the men, it was Djokovic’s 24th Grand Slam championship, and if it looked easy, you didn’t watch it, for it was a stirring match. The initial set was at 3-3when the Serbian Djokovic turned in an 18-shot volley victory that the crowd was victim to, and when the cheers joined, then it was back-and-fourth the next game before the calm Medvedev was short on a determined net shot.
 
But the best was the deciding set. A roller coaster ride it was. Medvedev had five break points, Djokovic the same, both made stellar return of serves, both strung together shots down both lines and deep ones to the baseline.
 
The crowd was really pumped, obviously on the more known Djokovic’s  side. It knew the top Russian was good, but not this good, not against Djokovic. But the lengthy set finally was a lost one for Medvedev after he double faulted.
 
If you thought that was close, try again, for set number two went as far as a tiebreaker. 
 
Again the throng erupted. Again Medvedev tried to grab this one, this time he had six break points, but it was Djokovic frustrating the younger player  with his change in serves, then the two traded serves until Medvedev wrapped a forehand that was just inside the sideline but caught up by Djokovic for a remarkable return that brought a shrug from Medvedev as he lost the 7-6 set.
 
No change in set three. It ended again at 6-3, there were some super shots, excellent serving, the crowd standing and hanging on. Being on hand, it was able to witness this match final. Three sets that were best to follow instead of just glancing at them.
 
“I thought I played well against a great player,” Medvedev said, “but i came up short on some shots, could have served better, and there you were, down and out to a player you had to be at your best against.”
 
Djokovic, too, had his say.
 
“Tough, tough match,” he said. “I had see him (Daniil) play before, but we had never played. Very strong, good shot maker, stayed calm, and you can’t look at the final scores to decide this, so I was happy to get through it.”
 
Yup, play real well and lose in three sets wasn’t what Medvedev wanted, but being young, he’s hoping to get used to it, and perhaps win it next time. 
 
What an afternoon, hot day and two-way hot play in New York, New York, that both players had to sweat through. 

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