Novak Djokovic entered Arthur Ashe Stadium in great shape this Friday, and otherwise he might have been defeated again by Alexander Zverev, his tormentor at the Olympic Games. The world number 1 was back in the match, but this time turned the score around and, even after a great reaction from the German, controlled his nerves, was superior in a nervous fifth set and won a hard-fought victory by 4/6, 6/2, 6/4, 4/6 and 6/2 which guaranteed him a place in the US Open final.
The 34-year-old Serbian is now to a victory of completing the Grand Slam, made in which a tennis player wins the four most important tournaments in the world in the same season. Nole is the current champion of the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon. If he also wins in New York, he will be the first man to close the Grand Slam since Australian Rod Laver in 1969.
Djokovic too can leave behind Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and become the man with the most singles slam titles in history. Today, Serbian, Spanish and Swiss have 20 each. Nole will now face the Russian Daniel Medvedev, world number 2 and also rival in this year’s Australian Open final. In Melbourne, Nole won by 3 sets to 0. In total direct clashes, the Serbian leads by 5 to 3.
Medvedev won his place in the final with a capital victory over Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime, #15 in the world, who had partials of 6/4, 7/5 and 6/2. Auger-Aliassime had a good time in the second set, when he served 5/3 and had two set points, but failed to convert. The Russian got the turn and won the next round without problems.
How did it happen
The match started with the two players getting great use of the first serve and confirming without problems. Zverev, little by little, was threatening more the number 1 games. In the fifth game, Djokovic escaped from 0/30 with a streak of great services. In the seventh, the German had the first break point of the game, but Nole once again served well and saw his rival miss the return. On the ninth, there was no way. After winning three points from the backcourt, Zverev had a double foul by Djokovic to break through. The world’s #4 served in the sequel and, thanks to a backlash from the Serb in the third set point, closed the partial in 6/4.
The two tennis players swayed more in the second set and saw their first serve performance plummet. Worse for Zverev, who made more mistakes in the first half of the second half (8) than in the entire previous set (6). Two of these failures were especially serious. In the second game, serving 30/30, Sascha missed a forehand with Djokovic in the run. Then, facing a break point for the first time, he committed a double fault. Nole, as usual, took advantage, while Zverev continued to miss more. In the eighth game, the German’s failures cost another break. A long slice gave Djokovic another break and the set: 6/2.
Sascha regained balance at the start of the third set, serving well and forcing Djokovic into longer back-court exchanges. Nole swayed more, but fit in great serves whenever he found himself in tricky situations. It was like that to save a break point in the first game and two more in the fifth. In the ninth game, with Zverev serving at 4/5, Djokovic raised the bar. Not only did it return the German’s serves well, but it became a wall at the back of the court. After three mistakes by the German – one of them in an incredible 32-hit rally – Djokovic had three set points. Sascha saved the first two, including winning a 53-hit rally (see above), but he didn’t stop Djokovic from climbing into the net and converting the third chance. Game and third set: 6/4.
Despite Djokovic’s strength and the unfavorable moment, Zverev was unfazed. and returned to the fourth set as solid as before. As in the third round, the German had the first break points. The veteran saved the first with a nice open serve – again! – but needed the second serve at the next break point. Sascha didn’t waste his chance and, with an indefensible right wing, he finally broke number 1. Incredibly solid from the backcourt, the #4 in the ranking continued to serve well and send the rallies to make 6/4 and force fifth set.
With his Grand Slam threatened for the first time in the tournament, he responded in kind, while Zverev faltered at the start of the decisive end. After a double fault and two mistakes by the German, Djokovic quickly converted the first break point, playing a rally impeccably and killing the point with a combination of short and pass. Shortly thereafter, Nole already led 3/0. The German felt the blow, while number 1 was relentless. In the fourth game, Djokovic kept pushing and got another break. Zverev failed again, missing a smash and leaving the score at 4/0. There was nothing else to do.
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