Former US Open champ Dominic Thiem has labelled the pressure Novak Djokovic faced during the US Open final as 'inhuman' after seeing the 20-time grand slam champ break down before the match was over.
Russian Daniil Medvedev ended Djokovic's hopes of a calendar grand slam after a near flawless 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 US Open final win.
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The Russian was in imperious form and momentarily paused Djokovic's chance of a record 21st grand slam.
From the start Djokovic couldn't find the answer even if the crowd rallied behind the Serb's quest for tennis immortality.
However, fans watched around the world as the weight of expectations came crashing down on Djokovic as arguably the greatest ever play broke down in tears.
And he 2020 US Open champ Thiem jumped to the defence of Djokovic.
Thiem missed a chance to defend his title after a wrist injury largely curtailed his 2021 season, but the injured star praised Medvedev for his maiden grand slam title.
However, the Austrian said while Djokovic was thoroughly outplayed it must have been a relief to finish the US Open after the 'inhuman' amount of pressure on the World No.1.
"On the other hand, you could see the tension Novak Djokovic was under - especially at the last exchange, where he was in tears," Thiem said on Eurosport.
"We saw what was going on inside him; also what he had accumulated in the last weeks and months. That is simply inhuman.
"I don't know him that well, but I think he has a really good heart and has deserved the love of the whole audience here. We don't need to talk about his sporting achievements anyway."
Tennis icon Boris Becker also weighed-in on the tension and said he doesn't remember a time when Djokovic had looked so 'clueless' on the court.
"He didn't want to become one of the best - he wanted to become the best, and he would have underlined that with a victory here today," he added on Eurosport.
"I have never seen Novak so clueless."
Novak Djokovic's relief after US Open final
But despite the straight-sets loss, Djokovic says he was just happy his chase for grand slam perfection in 2021 was finally over.
When asked in his post-match press conference to describe his emotions, the 34-year-old said: "Relief."
"I was glad it was over because the build up for this tournament and everything that mentally, emotionally I had to deal with throughout the tournament in the last couple of weeks was just a lot."
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