‘Treating it like last match of my career’: Medvedev stands in way of Djokovic and Grand Slam history as pair book US Open final
Top seed Djokovic came through a five-set epic against in-form German Alexander Zverev in their semi-final in New York on Friday (4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2), and is now just one victory from putting himself out on his own at the top of the Grand Slam standings ahead of generational rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
“All in, let’s do it. I’m going to put my heart, my soul, my body, and my head into that one. I’m going to treat the next match like it’s the last match of my career," Djokovic told the Arthur Ashe stadium crowd as he looked ahead to Sunday's blockbuster with Medvedev.
"I am going to treat my next match like it is the last match of my career."Having secured a spot in the #USOpen final, Novak Djokovic is one win away from becoming the sole leader in men's career grand slams. pic.twitter.com/EWq3IvFHd1— ESPN (@espn) September 11, 2021
Djokovic gained revenge against Zverev after the 24-year-old had derailed his hopes of Olympic glory – and the chance of a historic ‘Golden Slam’ – by beating him in the semi-finals in Tokyo back in July.
That win for the German had been part of a remarkable 16-match winning run which crashed to a to a halt on Friday, in a contest which contained some titanic tussles including a 53-shot rally in the third set which went Zverev's way but still didn't prevent Djokovic from winning the game and the set.
Alongside his chance to clinch a record Grand Slam haul, Djokovic can also become the first man to seal a calendar Grand Slam of all four Majors in the same year since Australian icon Rod Laver back in 1969.
Sunday’s Flushing Meadows final will be Djokovic’s 31st at a Slam, tying Roger Federer’s record, and will be a chance for the indomitable Serb to win a fourth US Open title.
This was the 10th time this season that Novak Djokovic dropped the opening set in a major. He has come back to win all 10 of those matches, the most such wins by any man in a single year in the Open Era (since 1968).Djokovic is 1 win away from completing the Calendar Grand Slam pic.twitter.com/9wsYpRPFGu— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 11, 2021
Standing in his way will be world number two Medvedev, who brushed past Canadian 12th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 in their semi-final earlier on Friday.
Medvedev, 25, has dropped just one set on his way to what will be a third Grand Slam final appearance for the big Russian.
Medvedev becomes the first man ever from his nation to be a multiple finalist in New York, having contested a five-set thriller with Rafael Nadal in 2019, which he ended up on the wrong side of.
“I don’t think I played my best today, but I am really happy to be in the final on Sunday,” Medvedev said after overcoming Auger-Aliassime.
Medvedev had looked dominant for most of the match, although he did save set points in the second set, rallying from 2-5 to battle back.Also on rt.com Revenge mission? Medvedev could deny Djokovic the Grand Slam... and his wife laughs at him after he reaches US Open final (VIDEO)
Having missed out in his two previous appearances in major finals – including being routed by Djokovic in straight sets in Melbourne earlier this year – Medvedev will finally hope to pop his Grand Slam cherry at the third attempt.
While Djokovic holds a 5-3 advantage in his head-to-head rivalry with Medvedev, the Russian has won three of their last five meetings.
Medvedev is aiming to become the first Russian male to win a Grand Slam singles title since Marat Safin won the Australian Open in 2005. He would also be the first Russian men’s champion in New York since Safin achieved the feat in 2000.
On Sunday, history beckons for both Djokovic and Medvedev.