From the day the men’s singles draw came out, Novak Djokovic’s path to another US Open final seemed clear, and he looked set to face Carlos Alcaraz, which would have been a rematch of this year’s Wimbledon final.
The US Open men’s final will feature a rematch, but not between Djokovic and Alcaraz. Daniil Medvedev of Russia, after defeating Alcaraz on Friday evening in four sets, will play Djokovic on Sunday afternoon for the championship.
It will be a rematch of the 2021 US Open final, which Medvedev won, preventing Djokovic from completing a Grand Slam that year.
Here’s what you should know about Sunday’s match:
Djokovic and Medvedev took different paths to reach the final.
On paper, Djokovic appears to have worked his way into the championship match. He won five of his six matches in straight sets. But he faced some formidable opposition along the way. In the third round, Djokovic ran into trouble when he lost the first two sets to fellow Serb Laslo Dijri. But Djokovic was able to come back to win, finishing around 1:30 a.m
In the quarterfinals, Djokovic faced Taylor Fritz, the top-ranked American man, and in the semifinals he faced Ben Shelton, the rising American young man.
The path to the final was more difficult for Medvedev than Djokovic. Two of Medvedev’s matches were postponed to four sets, in the second round against Christopher O’Connell and again in the fourth round against Alex de Minaur.
Medvedev’s toughest competition came in the semifinals on Friday, when he played Alcaraz. After the first set ended in a tiebreaker, it looked like the fans were in for a long night. But Medvedev dominated the second set with a score of 6-1. Alcaraz won the third but was unable to build further momentum, sending Medvedev to the final.
Medvedev played spoiler in 2021.
Medvedev and Djokovic had previously reached the US Open final. Two years ago, Djokovic was looking to complete a Grand Slam schedule, having won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in a single year (he also competed in the Tokyo Olympics that year, but did not medal and thus lost his chance at the title). Golden knockout).
All Djokovic needed to complete a Grand Slam was to win the US Open.
But Medvedev spoiled the party. Medvedev went on to win the 2021 US Open final in straight sets, preventing Djokovic from completing the Grand Slam.
The match was strange at times, in which Djokovic showed emotions that fans are not used to seeing. At one point in the third set, Djokovic covered his face with a towel and then appeared to start crying and shaking, a sign of how important completing the major tournament was to him.
Medvedev said on Friday that Djokovic is finding ways to improve after the loss, making this year’s final more difficult.
“When he loses, he is never the same again,” Medvedev said, referring to the 2021 final. “He will be 10 times better than he was that day, and I have to be, if I want to beat him, 10 times better than I was that day.”
Djokovic leads them head-to-head.
Djokovic and Medvedev have met 14 times, with Djokovic having the advantage with nine wins. Their last confrontation was last March in the Dubai Championship, which Medvedev won 6-4, 6-4.
While Medvedev was able to spoil Djokovic’s Grand Slam shot in 2021, Medvedev admitted on Friday evening that facing Djokovic would not be easy.
Medvedev said: “Novak will present his best version on Sunday. “And I have to be the absolute best version of myself if I want to try to beat him.”
Djokovic is looking for No. 24.
Anytime Djokovic plays in a Grand Slam final, there’s a chance history will unravel. With 23 Grand Slam titles, Djokovic surpasses Rafael Nadal, who has 22 titles, and Roger Federer, who has 20 titles.
With Federer now retired and Nadal sidelined due to injury, Djokovic has the opportunity to distance himself from his counterparts in the Big Three in men’s tennis. But Djokovic said on Friday evening that he tried not to focus too much on the numbers.
He added: “I am aware of this, and of course I am very proud of it.” “But again, I don’t have much time and I don’t allow myself to think about these things.”
Djokovic recalled a similar historical heaviness when he lost the 2021 US Open final, and said he did not want that to happen again.
“I will just try to focus on what needs to be done and prepare myself tactically for that match,” he said.
Watch Medvedev’s return situation.
As for those who have focused this tournament more on players like Frances Tiafoe, Carlos Alcaraz, and Ben Shilton, one big question may come to mind when they watch Medvedev in action: Why does he stand so far from the baseline to return the serve?
This may seem like a handicap to Medvedev, but he is using the position to his advantage. By standing further from the baseline, sometimes as much as 20 feet, Medvedev gives himself more time to return the serve. He also uses the tactic as a tool to reinforce his positioning at the same point; By starting away from the baseline, he ensures that he will move forward as the point develops.
The strategy, of course, has its downsides. By standing further back and having more time, Medvedev leaves more space on the court and gives his opponents more time to get into better position on the next shot after serving.
“Travel aficionado. Infuriatingly humble reader. Incurable internet specialist.”