US Open: record holder Novak Djokovic prepares for final with Daniil Medvedev

Novak Djokovic hopes to become first man since 1969 to win a Grand Slam calendar
Place: Flushing Meadows, New York Dated: August 30-September 12
Blanket: Daily radio commentary on the BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra / BBC Sport website and app, with a selection of live text commentary and match reports on the website and app

World number one Novak Djokovic won a grueling five sets against Alexander Zverev to stage a US Open final against Daniil Medvedev and keep his bid for a Grand Slam calendar on track.

Russia’s second seed Medvedev had previously maintained his hopes of winning a first major title with a 6-4 7-5 6-2 victory over Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Djokovic then recovered after losing a set to win 4-6 6-2 6-4 4-6 6-2.

He now has the chance to win a record-breaking 21st men’s Grand Slam singles title.

The victory over Medvedev on Sunday at Flushing Meadows would move Djokovic away from the 20 majors won by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic, chasing the story, would also become the first man to win all four majors in the same year since Rod Laver in 1969.

“There is only one game left, all inclusive, let’s go. I’m going to put my heart and soul and my body and my head in this one,” Djokovic said.

“I’m going to treat the next game like it’s the last of my career.”

Djokovic survives Zverev in New York

In fourth seed Zverev, Djokovic clashed with a player who six weeks ago put an end to his hopes for another slice of history, the “Golden Slam”, by beating him at the Games Olympic.

The 34-year-old must have feared a repeat when he double-fouled to give Zverev the chance to serve for the first set. His opponent obliged despite a double fault on his first set point.

At the start of the second, the tables were turned, Zverev missing a direct forehand and followed up with a double fault as Djokovic broke and then galloped through the set to equalize.

Zverev was frustrated at not being able to convert a break in the third opener and again missed a chance at 2-2, only to present Djokovic with three set points.

He saved two, the second in a remarkable 53-shot rally, but Djokovic smashed the third at the net to take the lead and celebrated by lifting the crowd with his arms in the air.

Zverev again engineered break points to 1-1 in the fourth set and this time landed a forehand past his opponent as he retained that advantage to force a decider.

It was Djokovic who found the breakthrough in Zverev’s first service game in the fifth set and the Serbian’s enduring class made its way as he took a 5-0 lead.

Zverev, who at 24 is Djokovic’s 10-year-old younger, stepped onto the board and then recovered from a break to keep the semi-final alive, much to the New York crowd’s delight.

The three-time US Open champion fought back to bring match point to Zverev’s serve and sealed his place in the final when his opponent found the net after three hours and 33 minutes of tennis.

“Thank you, the atmosphere was amazing – the best atmosphere in the tournament so far,” said Djokovic.

“These are the times we live for, the unique opportunities we dream of every day when we wake up and try to find the motivation to go out and do the same things again.”

Analysis

Russell Fuller, BBC tennis correspondent

The gripping game boasted of a 53-shot rally and was watched at Arthur Ashe Stadium by Rod Laver – the man Djokovic will try to emulate on Sunday.

Not always at his best from the baseline, Djokovic qualified for a record 31st Grand Slam final with exceptional service and trademark mental resilience.

He then vowed to play Sunday’s final as if it were the last game of his career.

The world number one has spent five and a half hours more on court than Medvedev so far. A hot and humid climax is set for Sunday, and with the pressure of chasing history, the 28th and final hurdle could still be the toughest to get through.

Third chance for Medvedev?

Daniel Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev, in search of his first major title, plays in his third Grand Slam final

Medvedev will play his third Grand Slam final on Sunday, after losing the 2019 final at Flushing Meadows to Rafael Nadal and the Australian Open final to Djokovic in February.

The 25-year-old, who won hard court titles in Marseille and Toronto this year, conceded his only set of the tournament in his four-set victory over Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp in the previous round, during a trouble-free race to the final.

Medvedev grimly broke love in the seventh game of the first set against Auger-Aliassime, choosing his moment to apply pressure and put his 21-year-old opponent on the back foot.

The second set proved to be much trickier for the Russian, as Auger-Aliassime – playing his first Grand Slam semi-final – landed a second breakpoint opportunity before maintaining serve to lead 5-2 .

The set – and a chance for the Canadian to tie the game – fell apart from there.

Twice unable to convert to set point, Auger-Aliassime was punished by Medvedev, who fought back and rocked four successive matches to abruptly end his opponent’s momentum and take a two-set lead.

After a serve opener in the third set, the 12th-seeded challenge surrendered as the world number two claimed another double break to take a 5-1 advantage before securing another serve victory.

BBC Around Reading Image Banner - BlueFooter - Blue

Add a Comment