Rafael Nadal, who is often praised for his gentlemanly on-court conduct, once again proved his class after he clinched the US Open title by defeating Russia’s Daniil Medvedev as he applauded chair umpire Ali Nili despite being penalised by him.
Nili had penalised Nadal twice in the thrilling five-setter twice for taking too long to serve, and for this, he was roundly booed by the crowd at the Arthur Ashe Stadium as he went to collect his award during the trophy presentation.
However, as he was standing on the podium, Nadal intervened and clapped for Nili, changing the mood in the stadium.
Nili had handed a time violation warning to Nadal in his very opening service game, which was unusual as also pointed out by the commentators.
It is very rare to see such strict officiating so early on and Amazon Prime commentator Mark Petchey voiced his surprise.
“Wow! That is an early code violation. It is an interesting shout though because you have got the shot clock in the corner and it is on nought and he is still bouncing the ball. The rules are the rules,” he said.
Co-commentator, the legendary Martina Navratilova, was shocked by the violation. “That is the earliest one I’ve ever seen I think,” she said.
Then in the fourth set, the umpire again penalised Nadal for taking too long to serve. This time, the World No. 2 lost a first serve.
Nadal was once again penalised in the tense fifth set and lost his first serve as he was attempting to save break point when up 5-2. The penalty ended up costing him a point as he double-faulted.
Eventually, Nadal withstood the pressure in the nerve-wracking final as he beat Medvedev 7-5 6-3 5-7 4-6 6-4 in 4 hours and 50 minutes, the second longest US Open final, just four minutes short of the longest ever.
The win gave Nadal his fourth US Open title and his 19th Grand Slam overall, and now he is just one shy of Roger Federer’s all-time record tally of 20.
After receiving his fourth US Open title, Nadal said: “This has been an amazing final. First word that I have is to Daniil. His summer is one of the best summers I've ever seen since I’ve been playing. Tonight, everybody saw why he is the number four player in the world at just 23 years old. Many congratulations for everything.”
He described his win as one of the most emotional ever. “It has been one of the most emotional nights of my tennis career. Thank you very, very much, everybody in this stadium. It’s been amazing energy during both weeks. I think there isn’t another stadium in the world that is more energetic than this one so many thanks for everything.”