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History awaits Novak Djokovic in the 2021 US Open men's final

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Roar Guru
11th September, 2021
1

And then there were two.

History is at the mercy of world number one Novak Djokovic when he attempts to claim a men’s record-breaking 21st Major title, and complete the Calendar Grand Slam, in Monday morning’s (AEST) US Open men’s singles final.

The Djoker has already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, while he just missed out on an Olympic Gold Medal when he lost to Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals in Tokyo, thus putting those hopes on hold until at least the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Winning those three Majors consecutively made him the first man to do so in a calendar year since Rafael Nadal won all but the Australian Open in 2010, while he had also previously won four Majors in a row between Wimbledon 2015 and the 2016 French Open.

Now, a 21st Major title would not only see him become the first man in over half a century to sweep the Grand Slam calendar; he would also claim the outright record for the most Major men’s singles titles, breaking a tie he holds with Nadal and Roger Federer (20 each).

In five of his six matches leading up to the championship showdown, he has been taken to at least four sets, and in his last four matches has dropped the first set before going on to win.

This included having to come from a set down to defeat Kei Nishikori, who had upset him in the semi-finals of the 2014 tournament, while he also needed four sets to defeat Italian Matteo Berrettini in the quarter-finals.

It was also the second straight Major in which he had to come from a set down to beat the 25-year-old, after doing so in the Wimbledon final in July, and it was the third straight Major this year in which the pair met, also clashing in the quarter-finals of the French Open.

Then, in the semi-final, with Rod Laver in attendance, he was taken to five sets against Zverev, dropping the first and fourth sets before cleaning up in the final set, winning it 6-2 to book his place in his ninth US Open final and 31st Major final.

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Novak Djokovic reacts as he defeats Alexander Zverev in the US Open semi-final.

Novak Djokovic reacts as he defeats Alexander Zverev in the US Open semi-final. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Awaiting him will be Russian second seed Daniil Medvedev, who cashed in on a half of the draw weakened by the early exit of Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach his third Major final, and second at Flushing Meadows after previously losing to Rafael Nadal in five sets in 2019.

Medvedev cruised through his section of the draw, dropping no more than four games in any set as he won his four early-round matches in straight sets, before being taken to four sets by Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp in the quarter-finals.

In his semi-final match against Felix Auger-Aliassime, the Russian fought off a set point in the second set before proceeding to win in straight sets, and set up a third attempt to win his maiden Major title.

Apart from narrowly losing to Rafael Nadal here in the final two years ago, he also reached the final of the Australian Open in February this year, where after a tightly contested first set he lost his cool thereafter, losing to Novak Djokovic in straight sets.

In that match, Medvedev fell behind 3-0 early in the first set, but fought back valiantly before losing it 7-5, and then imploded after breaking Djokovic’s serve early in the second for a 1-0 lead (after which he lost the second set 6-2, and then the third by the same scoreline).

At one hour and 53 minutes, it marked Djokovic’s quickest victory in an Australian Open final, but with a lot of water having passed under the bridge since then, Medvedev will be better for the experience as he looks to stop Djokovic from completing the Calendar Slam.

The stakes are highest in the 25-year-old’s case, as he has the chance to become the first Russian man to win a Major title since Marat Safin at the 2005 Australian Open, and at Flushing Meadows since Safin in 2000.

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On both those occasions, Safin defeated a local player to win his two Major titles, defeating Sampras at the turn of the century before breaking local hearts by beating Hewitt at Melbourne Park sixteen years ago.

At the other Majors this year, Medvedev fell to Tsitsipas in straight sets in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros, while at Wimbledon he lost a five-setter to Hubert Herkacz (who then went on to inflict the first straight-sets defeat on Roger Federer at the tournament since 2002).

Now that you’ve got all the info above, it’s time to crunch the all-important numbers and stats below.

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs [2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS)

Sunday, September 12, 3:00pm (Monday, September 13, 5:00am AEST)
Arthur Ashe Stadium

Head-to-head
All matches: Djokovic 5-3
At the Majors: Djokovic 2-0
In finals: Djokovic 1-0

Last meeting (anywhere, at a Major and in a final): Djokovic won 7-5, 6-2, 6-2, final, 2021 Australian Open

Novak Djokovic’s road to the final
Round 1: defeated Holger Rune (DEN) 6-1, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-1
Round 2: defeated Tallon Griekspoor (NED) 6-2, 6-3, 6-2
Round 3: defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-3, 6-2
Round 4: defeated Jenson Brooksby (USA) 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
Quarter-finals: defeated [6] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3
Semi-finals: defeated [4] Alexander Zverev (GER) 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2

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Daniil Medvedev’s road to the final
Round 1: defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-4, 6-3, 6-1
Round 2: defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-4, 6-1, 6-2
Round 3: defeated Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-0, 6-4, 6-3
Round 4: defeated [24] Dan Evans (GBR) 6-3, 6-4, 6-3
Quarter-finals: defeated Botic van de Zandschulp (NED) 6-3, 6-0, 4-6, 7-5
Semi-finals: defeated [12] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 6-4, 7-5, 6-2

The stats that matter
This is Novak Djokovic’s 31st Major final (20-10), and ninth (3-5) at the US Open, while this is Daniil Medvedev’s third Major final (0-2) and second at Flushing Meadows (0-1).

Djokovic is attempting to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete the calendar Grand Slam. A win would also see him win four consecutive Majors for the second time, after winning four straight between Wimbledon 2015 and the 2016 French Open inclusive.

He would also become the first man since himself in 2015 to win both hard court majors in the same calendar year.

Djokovic is also attempting to break a tie for the most Major men’s singles titles, which he currently holds with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. All three hold 20 Major singles titles each.

This is the second Major final between Djokovic and Medvedev to take place this year, after the Serb won in straight sets in the final of the Australian Open in February.

Medvedev is attempting to become the first Major men’s champion from Russia since Marat Safin won the 2005 Australian Open, and here at Flushing Meadows since Safin in 2000.

He is attempting to become the fifth man (after Federer, Nadal, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka) to beat Djokovic in a major final.

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This will be the 47th consecutive Major men’s singles title to be won by a European man, and twelfth straight at the US Open (the last non-European man to win on both occasions was Juan Martin del Potro at the 2009 US Open).

Prediction
Novak Djokovic in straight sets.

In the wheelchair quad singles, Dylan Alcott is now just two wins away from a golden calendar slam, and his attempt to do so has been made slightly easier by the elimination of defending champion Sam Schroder at the hands of compatriot Niels Vink.

As he did at the Tokyo Paralympics, Alcott defeated Bryan Barten by the scoreline of 6-0, 6-1, and his next match will be against Japan’s Koji Sugeno, which is first up on Louis Armstrong Stadium.

The other semi-final pits Vink, who won the Bronze Medal in Tokyo, up against Briton Andy Lapthorne.

The women’s final will also take place this morning (AEST), with Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez to square off in the first all-teenager Major final since the 1999 US Open (Serena Williams and Martina Hingis).

Whoever wins will be the youngest female Major champion since Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004, and youngest of any gender since Rafael Nadal won the 2005 French Open just two days after he turned 19.

Matches to watch on Day 13

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Arthur Ashe Stadium
Women’s final – not before 4:00pm (6:00am AEST)
Emma Raducanu (GBR) vs Leylah Fernandez (CAN)

Louis Armstrong Stadium
Wheelchair quad semi-final – play starts at 12:00pm (2:00am AEST)
[1] Dylan Alcott (AUS) vs Koji Sugeno (JPN)

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