New York | Medvedev takes out Alcaraz to face Djokovic in Final

The highly expected blockbuster US Open final has been denied by Daniil Medvedev who, after three-hours and 19-minutes in the huge Arthur Ashe Stadium, emerged a 7-6(3) 6-1 3-6 6-3 victor over the seemingly unbeatable Carlos Alcaraz and dash the young Spaniards hopes of retaining the title he won last year and become the first player since Roger Federer in 2008, to successfully retain the title.

To beat him, you need to be better than yourself and I managed to do it. Daniil Medvedev

For Medvedev it will be his third US Open final and a repeat of 2021 when he beat Novak Djokovic to claim the single major trophy he owns following the Serbs 6-3 6-2 7-6(4) expected win over the home favourite Ben Shelton who kept him on court for two-hours and 41-minutes.

“I said I needed to play 11 out of 10 (to defeat him). I played 12 out of 10, except the third set,” a delighted Medvedev commented after his memorable upset of the favourite. “That’s the only way. I don’t know if he’s still 20 or 21, but so young, already two Grand Slams, World No. 1 for many weeks. It’s honestly just pretty unbelievable, and I think nobody has done it before him. To beat him, you need to be better than yourself and I managed to do it.”

And to achieve it he produced a scintillating performance to avenge what had been a heavy straight-sets loss to the Spaniard in the Wimbledon semi-finals last July.

Medvedev held his nerve under constant pressure from the 20-year-old in the opening set, raising his game in the tie-break to claim the final four points and strike a psychological blow by claiming it to go ahead.

“I totally lose my mind on that set, and fighting for 50 minutes and then, you know, for four points lose my mind. It was really tough for me to handle it,” Alcaraz admitted.

Alcaraz didn’t face a single break point in the first set as Medvedev gained control and went on to totally dominate the second set — dropping just two points on serve and breaking the top seed twice as the Spaniard went two sets down for the first time at a major this year.

Alcaraz took a break to clear his mind and returned rejuvenated to set about redressing the situation breaking Medvedev to claim the third and pushing hard in the fourth.

Daniil Medvedev of Russia is congratulated at the net by Carlos Alcaraz following their semi-final match

(Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

In what proved to be the crucial sixth game, a lengthy one with Alcaraz serving at 2-3 with the pair using all the weapons at their disposal, the Russian gained the break and held it fending off three break-back points when serving out at 5-3 and securing the win on his fourth match-point.

“The third set was not so bad, I lost one serve,” Medvedev said. “I didn’t have a lot of opportunities on his serve, but I felt like I was not that far. So I was like, ‘I have to continue pushing. I have to do a little bit better on my serve.’ I saved some break points at 1-all. There was a very crucial, super-long game where I managed to do some amazing points to stay in the game and then he kind of — maybe we don’t see him do this often — he started to miss a little bit. Yeah, amazing.”

“I thought that right now I am better player to find solutions when the match is not going in the right direction for you,” a humbled Alcaraz said.

“But, you know, after this match, I gonna change my mind. I’m not mature enough to handle these kind of matches. So I have to learn about it.”

Novak Djokovic shakes hands with Ben Shelton after beating him in the semi-finals

(Photo by Frey/TPN/Getty Images)

And as mentioned, Medvedev (3) goes on to face Djokovic (2) for this year’s honours, a meeting which no doubt the Serbian will be relishing considering his opponent ended his hopes of a calendar Grand Slam in the final of 2021 by defeating him in straight sets!

For the first two sets it looked like Djokovic would be strolling into the final but then Shelton, another 20-year-old this time from Atlanta, Georgia, proved he was there on merit and with the crowd urging him on, finally provided some more realistic resistance.

Djokovic broke for 4-2 in the third but shortly after Shelton broke back to level at 4-all and the match sprang to life.

At 4-5, Djokovic would save a set point and then break again for 6-5 but then, serving for it the second seed came up short on a match point only to get broken again as Shelton forced a tie-breaker where Djokovic proved the stronger.

“It wasn’t easy to close this match out, but I’m really glad I did in three sets,” Djokovic admitted bearing in mind he was expecting his rival Alcaraz to reach the final later that evening and consequently wished to reserve enegry.

“Didn’t want to take this match to a fourth set, that’s for sure. He’s got a lot of firepower, an amazing pop on the serve. He’s just so dynamic and very unpredictable. I just had to [make] him play, made him uncomfortable. Probably the best serving I have had so far in the tournament; it was important considering I was playing a big server today.”

Novak Djokovic keeps his eye on the ball

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Djokovic is now poised to equal Margare Court’s all-time record of 24 singles Grand Slam titles!

“The Grand Slams are the ones that motivate me the most to play my best tennis, perform my best tennis. I knew prior to the quarterfinals that I would play an American player and that is never easy,” Djokovic continued. “To control the nerves and be composed in the moments that matter. Today things were going really smoothly for me and then he broke back and it was anyone’s game at the end of the third set. This is the kind of atmosphere we all like to play in, so I am really, really pleased with this win today. Another Grand Slam final. I cannot be happier with where I am,”

Djokovic, who missed last year’s tournament at Flushing Meadows because of his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19, could become the oldest men’s champion if he lifts the trophy for a fourth time.

This year he has reached the final at all four majors in the same season for the third time and should he triumph on Sunday, he will have claimed three Grand Slams in the same year for the fourth time in his career.

“I’m obviously over the moon with the results so far on Grand Slams,” Djokovic admitted.

“Playing in all four finals of all four Slams in a season is amazing. It’s the highest achievement I can think about when I start the season.

“That’s what I dream about, that’s what I really wanted, that’s where I want to be, in this kind of position.”

However, he has one more hurdle to clear and while Djokovic leads Medvedev 9-5, that loss in 2021 is the one result that rankles most.

“Daniil won against me in the final a couple of years ago. He has probably been the most consistent player at the US Open in the past five years,” Djokovic said of their clash on Sunday with Medvedev admitting: “The challenge is to play a guy who won 23 Grand Slams and I have only one. When I beat him here, I managed to play better than myself and I need to do it again. There is no other way.”

So, while the expected blockbuster is being denied, the replacement looks equally as intriguing.



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