Novak Djokovic reaches US Open final, one win from Grand Slam | Inquirer Sports

Novak Djokovic reaches US Open final, one win from Grand Slam

/ 02:15 PM September 11, 2021

 Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after his match against Alexander Zverev of Germany (not pictured) on day twelve of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after his match against Alexander Zverev of Germany  on day twelve of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

Novak Djokovic is one win away from two momentous achievements.

The top-seeded Serbian beat fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 on Friday to advance to the U.S. Open final in New York.

If Djokovic can beat second-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia for the title on Sunday, he would become the first male player to win all four Grand Slam events in the same year since Australia’s Rod Laver in 1969.

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Djokovic also would record his 21st major title, which would break a tie for the all-time record. He is currently level with his two biggest rivals, Switzerland’s Roger Federer and Spain’s Rafael Nadal, neither of whom entered the U.S. Open this year.

“There’s only one match left. All in,” Djokovic said postmatch. “I’ve got to put my heart and my soul and my body and my head into that one. I’m going to treat the next match like it was the last match of my career.

Medvedev reached his second career U.S. Open final with a dominating 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 victory over 12th-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime

Djokovic, 34, already holds the record for most weeks with the world’s No. 1 ranking, 337. He previously won U.S. Open titles in 2011, 2015 and 2018.

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By earning a spot in his 31st major final, he equaled the record set by Federer.

For the fourth match in a row, Djokovic dropped the first set before rallying to win. Unlike the other three, this time he was forced to a fifth set, but he still rallied to avenge his most recent defeat.

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Zverev beat Djokovic in the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics this summer, then went on to win the gold medal. Djokovic came away with the bronze.

On Friday, Zverev came up short in an attempt to reach his second career major final. He lost to Austria’s Dominic Thiem in a five-set U.S. Open championship match last year.

“Alexander is a big champion,” Djokovic said. “He’s definitely one of my best friends. We train a lot, we see each other a lot. … He’s a great guy and even a better player. … I knew coming into the court it was going to be a great battle.

In the first semifinal, Medvedev racked up 12 aces while dispatching Auger-Aliassime in 2 hours, 4 minutes.

Medvedev had 37 winners and 25 unforced errors while returning to the final. The 25-year-old Russian lost a five-set thriller to Nadal in 2019.

“Last time was a crazy match,” Medvedev said in a courtside interview of the final against Nadal. “If it’s going to be the same match on Sunday, I just hope I can win this time.”

Overall, it will be Medvedev’s third career Grand Slam final. He also lost in the Australian Open final to Djokovic earlier this year.

Auger-Aliassime hit just 17 winners while committing a whopping 39 unforced errors. His serving was also an issue, as he had four aces and 10 double faults.

Auger-Aliassime had a solid chance to even the match at a set apiece when he held a 5-2 advantage in the second set. He had two set points in the ninth game but Medvedev fought them off. It was part of a five-game winning streak that delivered Medvedev a two-set lead.

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Medvedev then sailed through the final set. He won 11 of the final 13 games.

“He had two set points, so the only thing I was thinking about was, ‘I’m going to make you play,'” Medvedev said of the pivotal second set. “At 5-4, I knew it was the most important points of the match where I had to do everything at my best, even more than before, because it was a moment where I could break him mentally.”

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TAGS: Grand Slam, Novak Djokovic, US Open

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