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Sunday, September 26, 2021

US Open 2021: Novak Djokovic on verge of history against Daniil Medvedev

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US Open men’s singles final
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Date: 12 September Time: 21:00 BST
Coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra/BBC Sport website and app, plus live text commentary and report on the website and app

Novak Djokovic will bid to become the first man to complete the calendar Grand Slam in 52 years on Sunday when he meets Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final.

Djokovic could become the first male player since Australian Rod Laver to win all four major titles in the same year, just 24 hours after Emma Raducanu’s historic victory.

A win for the Serb would also give him his 21st Grand Slam singles title, putting him one ahead of his great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

The 34-year-old is up against second seed Medvedev, whom Djokovic defeated in the Australian Open final in February to win his first Slam of the year.

Djokovic has spent more time on the court than he would have liked en route to his ninth final in New York, and he has brushed off questions about his quest for the calendar Slam at times.

Meanwhile, Medvedev has dropped only one set on his way to his third major final, where the 25-year-old is attempting to win one of the sport’s most prestigious prizes for the first time.

One match between Djokovic and history

Djokovic has attempted to downplay the significance of his fourth US Open title this week, but it is impossible to ignore.

In the never-ending debate over who is the greatest men’s player of all time, if Djokovic adds the US Open title to those he won earlier this year in Melbourne, Paris, and Wimbledon, a feat neither Federer nor Nadal have accomplished, it could be a watershed moment.

Djokovic cut off his interviewer during his post-match interview following his quarter-final win over Matteo Berrettini, realising he would have to answer another question on the subject.

“I’ve just said millions of times that of course I’m aware of the history, and of course it motivates me,” he explained later. “It burdens me mentally if I think about it too much.”

Djokovic needed five sets to beat Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals – only one of his matches has been won in straight sets – but he did hint at the significance of Sunday’s showpiece afterwards.

“I’m going to treat this match as if it’s my final one because it’s arguably the most important match of my career,” he said.

“Maybe not, I’m not sure. But for this year, without a doubt.

“It’ll be a battle against another guy who has been in great shape.

“He’s already reached a couple of Grand Slam finals. I believe that his experience has changed. I’m confident he’ll give it his all to win his first Slam.”

Novak Djokovic would become only the fifth player to win a calendar Grand Slam in singles

Medvedev not focussing on spoiling party

Daniil Medvedev will play in his third Grand Slam final

Djokovic is aiming for a record 21st Slam, but Medvedev is hoping to win his first major title after losing in his previous two final appearances.

In 2019, the Russian was defeated in five sets by Nadal in New York, and he was also defeated in this year’s Australian Open final by Djokovic.

“If I can make it, I’m probably going to be in the history books a little bit somewhere,” Medvedev said. “But I don’t really care about it [stopping Djokovic].”

“On the one hand, he’ll undoubtedly feel some pressure as a result of it. On the other hand, it is this quality that will enable him to perform even better in difficult situations.”

During his previous run to the final at Flushing Meadows two years ago, Medvedev became the pantomime villain, inciting boos from the crowd before winning them over in an enthralling final.

“I didn’t have the stories this year, and that’s a good thing,” he said.

“I have two Slam finals experience that can help me – not that it will, but it can. The only thing I can say is that everything I have left will be thrown out on Sunday.

The 25-year-old has also played five hours and 35 minutes less than Djokovic, dropping only one set in six matches.

“Yeah, it was definitely smooth in a way,” he added. “You know how Grand Slams are: even if you make it to the final without dropping a set, each match will be difficult in its own way.

“There were a few tense moments. There were some close fights. It’s never easy, but I’m glad I was able to save a significant amount of physical abilities, physical power, and mental power.”

SourceBBC
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