Nadal defeats Medvedev in five-set epic to win US Open
New York - The 33-year-old lefthander became second oldest US Open champion in the professional era.
Rafael Nadal survived a heroic Daniil Medvedev fightback to claim an epic 7-5 6-3 5-7 4-6 6-4 win and a fourth US Open title on Sunday, moving within one Grand Slam crown of matching Roger Federer's record of 20.
A routine end to the Flushing Meadows fortnight looked on the cards when Nadal, already two sets up, broke for a 3-2 lead over the tall Russian in the third with the 19th Grand Slam title apparently in the bag.
From that point, however, the match was transformed into a near five-hour thriller as Medvedev staged a comeback that left the Spaniard shaken and Arthur Ashe Stadium buzzing.
"An amazing final - seemed that I had the match more or less, it has been one of the most emotional nights in my tennis career," Nadal said.
"This victory means a lot especially because of the way the match became so difficult, so tough. These type of matches in the final of a Grand Slam make them special."
The 33-year-old lefthander became second oldest US Open champion in the professional era behind Australian Ken Rosewall, who was 35 when he lifted the title in 1970.
Not once since 1949 had a player come back from two sets down to win the US Open final but Medvedev, cheered loudly by a crowd that booed him mercilessly earlier in the week, came close on the back of some brilliant tennis.
"I was being myself," said the 23-year-old. "I was fighting for every point. I think they appreciated it.
"I know I have to leave my heart out there for them. I think they saw it and they appreciate it."
On the ropes with Medvedev looking to deliver the knockout blow, Nadal showed once again why he is the game's greatest fighter and he lifted himself off the canvas to scrap his way to the title.
The quality of tennis in the final three sets was breathtaking at times, the long rallies swinging back and forth with neither player prepared to give up a single point without stretching every sinew.
After watching Medvedev erase his lead with a rasping backhand service return to win the fourth set, a rattled Nadal finally regrouped in the fifth and secured an early break to get in front 3-2.
The killer instinct Nadal has honed over nearly two decades at the top of the game then surfaced as he held serve and added yet another break to take control at 5-2.
The drama was not over yet.