US Open final: Can Novak Djokovic keep his date with a 24th slam?
Sunday's final will be a rematch of the 2021 clash, when Daniil Medvedev spoiled Djokovic’s party as the latter was one win away from securing a calendar grand slam
There will be no renewal of the much anticipated Djokovic-Alcaraz rivalry in the US Open final this year. Instead, it will be Daniil Medvedev, a serious challenger for the no. 1 spot until the Spaniard’s rise, who will be in the way as Novak Djokovic looks for a 24th slam to regain the top spot on Sunday.
Indeed, this will be a rematch of the 2021 final when Medvedev spoiled Djokovic’s party as the latter was one win away from securing a calendar grand slam, racing to a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win. This time, the 36-year-old great should feel no such pressure after the Wimbledon setback, and has looked in great touch in the recent past.
The two semi-finals on Friday were contrasting affairs with Djokovic hosting a a masterclass for young American Ben Shilton, while a resurgent Medvedev wore down Carlos Alacaraz 7-6(3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
The head-to-head stands at 9-5 in favour of Djokovic, but it has mostly been a back-and-forth ride since the Serb once held a 3-0 advantage. Medvedev’s stupendous US Open triumph in 2021 wrapped up a stretch in which he won four of six meetings. Djokovic answered by winning four in a row (including a three-set Paris final later in 2021), but Medvedev halted that losing streak by prevailing 6-4, 6-4 earlier this season in Dubai.
Looking ahead to the final, the 27-year-old Russian is certain that Djokovic will come back hard at him on Sunday. “Against Novak, it’s the same,” Medvedev said after his sem-final win. “He is always better than the previous time he plays. For example, I beat him in the (2021) US Open final; he beat me in Bercy in a great match. Carlos beat him (at) Wimbledon; he beat (Carlos) in Cincinnati. Novak is going to be his best version on Sunday and I have to be the best-ever version of myself if I want to try to beat him.”
Flushing Meadows, however, has often seen Medvedev at his best. This marks his third trip the final as he finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal in a five-setter two years before lifting the trophy in 2021.
He has looked in awesome form in front of the New York crowd this time around, with victories over Attila Balazs, Christopher O’Connell, Sebastian Baez, Alex de Minaur, Andrey Rublev, and Alcaraz. No one, not even Alcaraz, has managed to force a fifth set.
Djokovic had to come back from two sets down against Laslo Djere in round three, but has otherwise made quick work of Alexandre Muller, Bernabe Zapata Miralles, Borna Gojo, Taylor Fritz, and Ben Shelton.