Record hunter Novak Djokovic meets final with Daniil Medvedev – World digital news and sports

US Open 2021
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Date: August 30th through September 12th
Coverage: Daily radio commentary on the BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra / BBC Sport website and app, with selected live text commentary and match reports on the website and app
World number one Novak Djokovic won a grueling five-setter against Alexander Zverev to prepare for a US Open final against Daniil Medvedev and to keep his offer for a calendar grand slam on track.

The Russian runner-up Medvedev had previously kept his hopes for a first major title alive with a 6: 4, 7: 5, 6: 2 against the Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Djokovic then bounced back from a set deficit and won 4-6 6-2 6-4 4-6 6-2.

He now has the chance to win the 21st men’s individual Grand Slam title.

Beating Medvedev on Sunday in Flushing Meadows would set Djokovic off the 20 majors won by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Steeped in history, Djokovic was also the first man to win all four majors in the same year since Rod Laver in 1969.

“There’s only one game left, everything in, let’s do it. I’ll put my heart and soul and my body and my head into it,” said Djokovic.

“I will treat the next game as if it was the last game of my career.”

Djokovic outlasts Zverev in New York
In the fourth seeded Zverev, Djokovic met a player who six weeks ago ended his hopes for another piece of history, the “Golden Slam”, by defeating him at the Olympic Games.

The 34-year-old must have feared a repetition when he gave Zverev the chance to serve for the first set with a double fault. His opponent pledged, although he missed himself twice on his first setpoint.

At the beginning of the second round, roles were swapped, Zverev missed a direct forehand and followed with a double fault when Djokovic broke and then galloped through the set to equalize.

Zverev was frustrated not being able to use a break in the opening game of the third and again missed a chance to make it 2-2, only to be able to present Djokovic later with three setpoints.

He saved two, the second in a remarkable 53-shot rally, but Djokovic hit the third on the net to take the lead and celebrated by stirring up the crowd with his arms raised.

Zverev again scored breakpoints at 1-1 in the fourth set and this time he took a forehand winner over his opponent when he held that advantage to force a decision.

It was Djokovic who found the breakthrough in Zverev’s service game in the fifth set and showed the Serb’s persevering class when he took a 5-0 lead.

Zverev, who at 24 is 10 years younger than Djokovic, stepped on the board and then took a break to keep the semifinals alive, much to the delight of the New York audience.

The three-time US Open champion hit back directly to improve the match point on Zverev’s serve and secured his place in the final when his opponent hit 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 moments 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 all over again.”

Russell Fuller, BBC tennis correspondent

That addicting match had a 53-shot rally and was spotted at Arthur Ashe Stadium by Rod Laver – the man whose performance Djokovic will emulate on Sunday.

Not always in top form from the baseline, Djokovic qualified for a record-breaking 31st Grand Slam final with an exceptional serve and his characteristic mental resilience.

Then he promised to play the final on Sunday like it was the last game of his career.

The number one in the world has so far spent five and a half hours longer on the pitch than Medvedev. A hot and humid climax is forecast for Sunday, and with the pressures of the hunt for history, the 28th and final hurdle could be the hardest to overcome.

Medvedev happy for the third time?
Medvedev will contest his third Grand Slam final on Sunday after losing the 2019 final in Flushing Meadows to Rafael Nadal and the Australian Open final to Djokovic in February.

The 25-year-old, who won titles on the hard courts of Marseille and Toronto earlier this year, took his only set of the tournament in his four-set win against Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp in the preliminary round, during a largely trouble-free run to the final.

Medvedev ominously broke with love in the seventh game of the opening set against Auger-Aliassime, choosing his moment to put pressure and put his 21-year-old opponent on his heel.

The second set proved much tougher for the Russian as Auger-Aliassime – who is playing his first Grand Slam semi-final – fought a second breakpoint chance before holding the serve to lead 5-2.

The set – and a chance for the Canadian to level the game – unraveled from then on.

Auger-Aliassime was twice unable to convert at the set time and was punished by Medvedev, who pulled back and rattled through four consecutive games to abruptly end his opponent’s momentum and take a two-set lead.

After an opening stop of the service in the third set, the challenge of the twelfth seed surrendered as the world number two paused another double break to take a 5-1 lead before taking another commanding victory on serve.

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