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Novak Djokovic tops Alexander Zverev to reach US Open men’s final, one win from calendar Grand Slam

  • September 11, 2021

Djokovic played all his old hits in a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 semifinal victory over No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev. 

And now, if he can do it one more time on Sunday at Arthur Ashe Stadium against No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev, he’ll have a peerless 21st major title and the distinction of being the first man to win tennis’ four most important tournaments in the same calendar year since Rod Laver in 1969. 

For Djokovic, the victory over Zverev provided both his greatest test of this tournament and likely one of his most satisfying. Just a month ago at the Tokyo Olympics, Zverev came from a set and a break down to stun Djokovic and deny him the gold medal he had long sought to add to his collection. 

It looked like a similar heartbreak for Djokovic might be in the offing when Zverev took the fourth set, stood toe-to-toe with him on the long baseline rallies that Djokovic so often wins and even pushed him around at times with his power off the ground. 

How U.S. Open semifinals flipped conventional wisdom on its headNovak Djokovic’s mastery of Grand Slam format forces foes to find new level

Djokovic is now 36-10 in five-set matches in his career, including a memorable French Open final earlier this year when he came from two sets to love down to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas. 

Zverev, like Tsitsipas, leads a generation of players in their early 20s who have been continually stymied at the Grand Slam events by the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic. With two of those three fading out of the biggest events in 2021 due to age and injury, Djokovic has been the lone gatekeeper. And still, he’s yielded nothing on his rampage toward history. 

Now Medvedev, who has lost one Grand Slam final each to Nadal and Djokovic, gets another shot. But as Djokovic proved yet again Friday, it’s going to practically require perfection to stop him. 

Follow Dan Wolken on Twitter @DanWolken

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