NEW YORK -- Novak Djokovic will complete the first calendar year Grand Slam for a male since 1969. He is heading to the US Open final. Everyone else will be able to recall one pivotal and memorable game.
It was at the end of the third set, which eventually turned into a 4-6. 6-2. 6-4. 4-6. 6-2 win over Alexander Zverev, Tokyo Olympics gold medalist, in Flushing Meadows on Friday night. This made Djokovic 27-0 at major championships this year.
On a crisp, cool evening, the game saw many extended exchanges.
However, that was not the most important outcome. Djokovic is a formidable player, particularly on the most prestigious stages of his sport. Zverev was beaten by Djokovic's excellent returning and never-take a-rest defense.
Djokovic did lose that point, which was preceded and followed by 13 shots, 22 shots and 31 shots. He also lost a 16-shot game. But, he won the game and the set. He lost the first set 1 1/2 hours prior, but turned the tables with help from Zverev, who had dropped his level. Just as Djokovic lost his fourth set, but he immediately recovered and was almost untouchable, while he led 5-0 in the fifth.
Djokovic has spent more weeks at No. Djokovic, who has spent more weeks at No. 1 in the ATP rankings then anyone else, works out what it takes to be on top. He won in each of his four previous matches, and in 10 at the Slams overall.
After Friday's semifinal, he stated that there was only one match remaining. "All in. Let's go! I'm going treat the next match as the last of my career."
Beat No. Djokovic will be able to achieve two important milestones by beating No. 2 Daniil Medvedev Sunday. Djokovic would also be able to add the 2021 US Open Trophy to the ones he has won at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in July. The 34-year-old Serbian would win his 21st Slam title, breaking the men’s career record he shares with Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal.
On Friday, he also reached a 31st career Slam final. Djokovic now has a record number of nine in New York.
It will be No. It will be No. 3 for Medvedev (a 25-year old Russian man who defeated 12th-seeded Felix Auger Aliassime of Canada 6-4 7-5, and 6-2 in the afternoon.
Medvedev was defeated in the Australian Open final by Djokovic and by Nadal at the 2019 U.S. Open final.
Medvedev said that the more you lose something, you will want it back. Medvedev said that the more you want it, the more you will take it." Medvedev has only lost one set in the past two weeks. "I lost two finals. "I want to win the third one."
Djokovic is attempting to go 4-4 at the majors in one season. This feat was last achieved 52 years ago by Rod Laver in men's tennis. Laver did it in 1962, and Don Budge in 1938. This is what's known to be a true Grand Slam. It has been completed by three women, including Steffi Graf in 1988. Serena Williams' 2015 attempt at the US Open ended in defeat to Roberta Vinci in the semifinals.
Friday night's semifinal started with the 81-year old Laver looking over Djokovic's shoulders, seated in front of a baseline in Ashe's President's Box.
Zverev was oh so close to winning his first major in New York a year ago. He took a two-set lead, got two points from the championship, and then lost it all to Dominic Thiem in the fifth-set tiebreaker.
Zverev entered Friday with a 16-match winning streak. This includes beating Djokovic in July's semifinals of the Summer Games. Djokovic's match was decided in three sets, so it was a best-of-3 set. In matches that last five sets, he is now 36-10.
Djokovic was known for occasionally hitting his legs with his racket or rubbing his lower back with his left arm. However, regardless of what the outside signs might suggest, his racket is steady and he doesn't stress. He waits for the other guy not to slip.
It was Zverev this time.
Six games in and 20 minutes into the match, things really started to come alive thanks to Djokovic's 24-stroke point. He tried a drop shot. Zverev responded at an almost impossible angle to Djokovic's drop shot.
The crowd was wild. Zverev raised one hand to his right and wailed, "Louder!" Ten minutes later, Djokovic had made three forehand errors and Djokovic committed a double-fault that put Zverev in a 5-4 hole. Zverev, a German 24-year-old with a game built around power, served that set with the help aces at 128mph and 132mph. On the last point, Djokovic hit a serve at 128mph which Djokovic missed off his frame and sent the ball into the seats.
Zverev made 13 unforced errors in the second set, moving from six in the first set to 13. The match was even. Djokovic's loose play and Zverev's backhand passing win created two break points in the third. Djokovic saved them by holding to 3-2 with a forehand which clipped the baseline.
Zverev placed his hand on Zverev's hip and argued that the ball was out. However, there is no recourse at this year's U.S. Open. All decisions are made electronically via line-calling, so they can't be challenged. There are no line judges with which to dispute or question.
There were none last year. Djokovic was eliminated from Flushing Meadows when the ball he hit following a losing game accidentally struck a line judge's throat. Djokovic lost the final to Nadal at the next major tournament, which was delayed by a pandemic.
Djokovic has not lost a Grand Slam match since then.
This report used information from the Associated Press.