“I’m going to put my heart and soul into it …” Novak Djokovic to face Daniil Medvedev in US Open final
by Jim Slater
Novak Djokovic will face Daniil Medvedev in an attempt to complete the first men’s Grand Slam of the calendar year since 1969 after beating Tokyo Olympic champion Alexander Zverev in the US Open semifinals on Friday.
The first Djokovic outlived the fourth seed from Germany 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to reach Sunday’s league game at Arthur Ashe Stadium against the second seed from Russia Medvedev.
“I’m going to treat the next game like it’s the last game of my career,” said Djokovic.
One more victory will give the 34-year-old Serbian star the first Slam in a calendar year since Rod Laver accomplished it 52 years ago.
– Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) September 11, 2021
“There is only one game left. All in. Let’s go,” Djokovic said. “I’m going to put my heart and my soul and my body and my head in that one.”
Djokovic is aiming for his fourth career US Open title and 21st overall Slam crown, which would put him above the all-time record he shares with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, both missing in due to injuries.
“These are the times we live for,” Djokovic said. “These are the kind of unique opportunities we dream of when looking for motivation.”
2019 US Open finalist Medvedev defeated 12th Canadian favorite Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 to reach his third career Slam final.
“I don’t think I played my best today, but I’m really happy to be in the final,” said Medvedev.
Djokovic is the oldest US Open finalist since Andre Agassi at 35 in 2005 and may be the oldest US Open champion since Ken Rosewall at 35 in 1970.
By beating Zverev, Djokovic tied Federer’s all-time record of 31 appearances in the Men’s Slam final. Djokovic is 20-10 in the major final.
The final is a rematch of the February Australian Open final won by Djokovic in straight sets. Medvedev trails Djokovic 5-3 in his all-time rivalry.
“If I can do this, I’ll probably be in the history books a bit like not letting him do this,” Medvedev said. “But I don’t really care. I think it’s more about him, than it affects him.
Zverev, a US Open finalist last year, saw his 16-game winning streak come to an end.
In the fifth set, Djokovic broke after an extended rally with a forehand winner at 2-0 and Zverev hit two straight forehands to lose 4-0. Djokovic broke again in eighth to book his date with history after three hours and 34 minutes.
Djokovic double faults in the ninth game and Zverev was keen to win the first set in 36 minutes.
In the fourth, Zverev beat 2-1 with a winning forehand and held on from there.
East @DjokerNole the mentally toughest player in tennis history?
It takes us to the heart of a legend. pic.twitter.com/AiUfGDQYDT
– US Open tennis (@usopen) September 11, 2021
Auger-Aliassime lost two set points and was broken in the ninth game of the second set and Medvedev again broke in love on the verge of taking the set to take command of the game.
“I knew I had to do everything to my best because at this point in the game I knew I could break him mentally and that’s what happened,” Medvedev said.
In total, Medvedev has won 11 of the last 13 games, ending the affair with an airstrike after two hours and four minutes.
“I had to play at my best and even better if I wanted to have a chance to win,” said Auger-Aliassime. “I didn’t do it long enough. Overall Daniil was the best player.”