Djokovic v Zverev, Medvedev v FAA; US Open SF Picks And Pans

by Sean Randall | September 9th, 2021, 11:52 pm

While the women’s event went completely upside-down, the men’s draw at the US Open gone has almost to form, with the lone interloper being the talented World No. 15 Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The 21-year-old Canadian emerged from the Stefanos Tsitsipas – Andrey Rublev quarter, neither of whom he beat. The youngster Carlos Alcaraz took care of Tsitsipas in one of the best matches of the tournament and Rublev fell apart to Frances Tiafoe in their first pro meeting.

Like the women’s draw, without so many champions, so many new faces have made their mark. Jenson Brooksby, Botic Van de Zandshulp, Lloyd Harris and Maxime Cressy were just a few.

But in the end, we are left with Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Auger-Aliassime. That’s pretty much chalk. And none of the Top 3 were in any big trouble en route to this final weekend of Grand Slam tennis play.

Medvedev has looked the sharpest of the three, losing just one set. Zverev also lost just one set though had a few more bumps. But the tournament favorite Djokovic has been starting slowly but finishing strong.

On to the matchups.

Daniil Medvedev v Felix Auger-Aliassime
In terms of flat upside, because of his offensive mindset I give that edge to Auger-Aliassime. But in the here-and-now, Medvedev is the better player at the moment and heading into Friday.

Because of his firepower, I think Auger-Aliassime could pull the upset if the Russian is off.

With Uncle Toni watching, I’m sure the Canadian will use court position to his advantage. The question is, will Auger-Aliassime be able to deliver when it means the most.

Auger-Aliassime is 0-8 (0-16 in sets) in ATP finals, so that tells me he really battles his nerves.

Meanwhile, Medvedev is tired of finishing runner-up. His sights are set on a bigger prize.

They played once before and Medvedev won at the 2018 Canadian Open in a final set breaker. I don’t think it will be that close on Friday and the winner will be same.
The Pick: Medvedev in 4

Novak Djokovic v Alexander Zverev
If this was best-of-3 I’d take Zverev. While Djokovic looked incredible after dropping the first to Matteo Berrettini last night, the fact that he’s allowing himself to get into such a hole is troubling. Against the better players — like Zverev — it’s going to catch up. However, I don’t think that happens tomorrow.

Djokovic leads Zverev 6-3 with all three of the German’s wins coming in best-of-3 on the ATP stage. Zverev won’t have that luxury Friday. He’ll have to do something he’s never done before: win three sets against Djokovic and win his first match against a Top 10 player in a Grand Slam.

Zverev is going to get over that hump, and it could come in 24 hours. I just like the fire Djokovic showed after beating Berrettini. He had the look in his eye that he was switching into a higher gear. And he’ll need it.

Zverev is playing some of the best tennis of his career. He’s won 16 straight matches. He won the gold in Tokyo, overcame Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Cincinnati semifinal and then routed Rublev. The serving issues — for now — are in the past and he’s really leaning in and thumping his shots. His problem has been in best-of-five matches against the big names, and until he gets past that, it’s hard to pick him here.

To his credit, Zverev has bounced back extremely well from a brutal loss a year ago when he was within two points of victory.

Djokovic had him on the ropes in Tokyo, had his teeth sunk in. I think this time he won’t let go. He rises up and plays his very best match of the tournament from start to finish.
The Pick: Djokovic in 3

With the way things have been going in New York and the pressure mounting, Zverev could absolutely overwhelm Djokovic. The warning signs have been there for Novak. Dropping sets. Even multiple sets like we saw in Paris. We saw him lose the opener of Wimbledon to Jack Draper. Lost his cool in Tokyo. And of course his blips this week in New York.

And I think Auger-Aliassime can hurt Medvedev, though I feel that’s a longer shot only because Auger-Aliassime doesn’t have the results now the wins that Zverev has.

It should be a crazy finish.

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40 Comments for Djokovic v Zverev, Medvedev v FAA; US Open SF Picks And Pans

Giles Says:

The word going around is that it’s very windy on Ashe today. We all know how much faker hates wind! So, go Zverev go! And booooooo faker boooooo! 👹👹👹😱😱😱

tennismonger Says:

No one likes to play in wind. Especially one with big loopy groundies (Medvedev) or a rather high ball toss on the serve (Zverev). A super-clean ball-striker, however… (guess who).

We’ll see if it’s still a factor by mid-afternoon. Windy weather often subsides by evening & that’s when Novak & Zverev go out.

tennismonger Says:

Did anyone catch the Zverev-Djokovic Aussie Open quarterfinal on the Tennis Channel yesterday? I had totally missed & forgotten about it from back in January as I’m less amenable to sleep-deprivation these days. At any rate, I couldn’t help but notice the following:

1) Sascha won a tough, tight 1st set & you guessed it, proceeded to lose the next three. He was also within a whisker of being up 4-0 in the 4th but wound up losing it in the tiebreaker.

2) I don’t know if it’s the different lighting of the aussie summer, but in NYC, Novak looks like he’s aged years since then…c’mon Nole…you got this!

Dave Says:


Nice try with wind. Since they put the roof on, wind can barely get into the stadium. So have fun with that theory. Lol

Dave Says:

Not even Uncle Tony can stop Felix from choking. It’s the same old same old with him.

tennismonger Says:

That was tough to watch but hats off to Medvedev…he hung tough when he had to. He’s the (other) guy to beat for sure!

tennismonger Says:

I’m getting deja vu watching Nole-Sascha so far…but it ain’t over yet!

Van Persie Says:

Well, maybe losing the 1st is a good omen for Nole at this US Open

Van Persie Says:

Last game of the 3rd set was the best of this match so far. Wow!!

All Out Says:

Its a mere formality now. No way Zverev’s gonna win this one. And judging by the AO finals, Medvedev has got a really poor offensive game against Djokovic. The year of Nole is here and he gets his 21st slam in style.

skeezer Says:

Who wants to watch mediocrity? Sorry, These new no slam winner guys aren’t interesting enough to watch. Looking forward to the womens teen finals, much better watching👍

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Zverev is the new Andy Murray. He either looks like he’s gonna sh*t himself or start crying at any moment.

Terribly disappointing match. Novak doesn’t look right. Hope he’ll recover for the finals (assuming right now, in 4th set!).

Van Persie Says:

Looks like Zverev kept his cool, Nole blinked and there will be a 5 setter.
Had the feeling this might happen

Van Persie Says:

I like Nole’s body language. He looks like he’s not affected by losing the 4th.

skeezer Says:

What just so Djoker can make it look like drama? He’ll run away from here. Shoo in.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Another Zverev-Murray parallel: they both turn their matches with Novak into moonball push-fests!

Glad Novak got the break, but come on, Novak! You’re better than this!

tennismonger Says:

We now proceed to the soul-taking portion of the match… ;-)

Daniel Says:

GOATovic is impossible this set. They were spnakimg the ball at very high level for most of the match.

Can’t see Medvedev beating this Pumped up Djoko after this match and this 5th set versis Zverev who prevented hos Golden Slam.

Djoko soon to be (he already is) undoiblty the Greates Tennis Player who had ever lived. And deservedly so.

Can not believe we are one match away from a Grand Slam, something I thought I would never see in a lofe time. We are really spoiled by these 3.

Who would have thought 15 years ago that it would be neither Federer nor Nadal, but Djoko! Amazing.

Daniel Says:

“Well, maybe losing the 1st is a good omen for Nole at this US Open”

Actually VP, he lost 1set in RG and Wimbledon finals as well. So its what got him going, seems he needs to lose to relax and play his game.

Van Persie Says:

ok, it was under 4 hours, so he should recover.
Medvedev next.
I feel relaxed 🙂

@Daniel, yep, forgot about that.

van roten Says:

djoker again in a final! Congrats – but he is not the goat just yet ! You know why – his competition is pathetic! Weak era – no discussion – the last four years he was only challenged by Rafa and ol‘ Federer – he will Never be the Goat – but the most successful of all time . But hey that’s something, right ?

van Orten Says:

He could still lose on Sunday and guess what – You will be fine and djoker will be fine if that happens- but respect to all djoker fans in the world that you all never seem to consider the possibility that he might fail in achieving his goal of being the best greatest of all time – that’s what thrives him- you all helped to create his aura of invincibility – but if he fails – life will go on – the only thing I know is that there is still a match to be played on Sunday

You can’t compare different eras- Michael Jordan

Wog Boy Says:

Another 40 years old record is either equaled or broken, 31st GS final for Nole, and thst in the era of Nadal, Federer, Murray, Wawrinka, Delpo, Cilic, Thiem, Medvedev, Zverev, Tsitsipas (just some of the great players of Nole era)…..not too bad, not too bad.

40 years old is running out of records, hardly any left, who would have thought that just couple of years ago. but don’t worry fedfanatics, he will always be remembered as the King of 250 tournaments, that’s the record that Nole is not after…

skeezer Says:

And the Fed jealousy never ends lol.

Wog Boy Says:

Just found out, nothing to do with tennis, my all time favourite actor has moved to eternity 🇫🇷 ☦️

Who can forget “Borsalino” and the rest.

Adieu, Bebel


Wog Boy Says:

Dave, I am waiting on your take, don’t let me wait for too long, please?

Giles Says:

Unfortunately looks like faker has this in the bag now. Shame there was nobody even remotely capable of toppling him. Oh well. You can’t fart against thunder that’s for sure. He’s so so lucky that all the big guns are absent!

Giles Says:

Bog boy and mat4 can drink themselves to death tomorrow. ROFL

Wog Boy Says:

So Gisele, you realise cheering for Nole’s opponent didn’t work so you changed it to declaring him favourite in order to jinx him, you are third one on this thread who is doing that, how pathetic you all are.

Giles Says:

So Bog boy,. You know the expression, “ if you can’t beat them join them”.

Dave Says:

Wog Boy,

I only watched the first set. I had to work last night. I will watch the match on replay today. But know this, Zverev was the biggest test by far. I will give you a whole run down of why and why Medvedev has such a predictable game and it just doesn’t match up against Djokovic at majors.

chrisford1 Says:

I don’t want him to win, obviously, but I think Medvedev has an intelligent and creative game.
I’m interested in hearing why Dave finds Medvedev predictable.

Daniil CAN beat Novak. But at less than even odds, IMO, whereas I had Sasha at 50-50 based on his form going in to face Novak at the Semi-Final.

Should Djokovic win, there will be many discussions on “The Meaning
Of It All In Historical Context” but it’s premature now.

skeezer Says:

Awesome Teen Tennis so far. Go Girls!

Giles Says:

Don’t worry faker fans. It’s in the bag!

Dave Says:

I finished watching the match. Just to make this clear, I like Medvedev more than a lot of the young players. I’m just saying what I see. This is Medvedevs game in a nutshell. One commentator has said it. Medvedev tries to hold serve in one minute and on return games get the opponent into long rallies. I don’t see Medvedev as a very creative player to be honest. When it comes to finesse shots, he isn’t a very good volleyer, especially the forehand side and his drop shot is easily the worst in the top ten. He doesn’t overpower guys with his forehand. He at times pushes the ball and slow balls opponents until they get impatient and tired and bail out of the rally going for too much. It’s soooo repetitive Chrisford1. Felix A.A. Played horrible and played right into Medvedevs hands. He was an unforced error machine from parts of the match that I saw. Medvedev hits the ball flat and correct me if I’m wrong, doesn’t vary the spins of his forehand and backhand much. His slice is okay, but again, it could be better and doesn’t look like the most natural looking shot yet. So he’s predictable in the sense that he doesn’t have other shots that he can depend on when he needs a plan B. Against almost any player his game style works well. But against Djokovic in a best of 5 set match when Djokovic is constantly digging in, it looks very one dimensional and predictable.

Observations from the Zverev match. Djokovic is absolutely dialled in with his serve out wide getting so many free points. The Djokovic backhand is in peak form. He’s hitting his backhand down the line amazing at the moment. His hitting his backhand slice amazing too. Even though his forehand unforced errors count was up, I totally don’t mind that because I like that Djokovic is being aggressive on the forehand. His forehand down the line looks totally dialled in for sure. I like that he’s added something to his game. He’s hitting the forehand drop shot way more now and it’s looking pretty good. Djokovic also did a great job in this match of really varying the speed of his first serve after the first set. I thought that was a key shift that he made well.

Wog Boy Says:

Hi Dave,
Thanks very much for very thorough insights, agree with almost everything.
I also think that Zverev was a bigger danger to Nole than Medvedev, he has got everything in his game, everything better than Medvedev, but one thing, head that fits his game. If he only has Medvedev head on his shoulders he would already be multiple GS winner.

Back to final, I want to focus on Nole, Nole spent much more time on the court than Russian, he dropped 6 sets to Russian one who is as fresh as daisy, it’s bound to catch up with him, hopefully not in the final, he can’t take his legs since that’s Russian game too. Medvedev can drag him in endless exchanges for 5 hours and wont blink, Nole can’t afford to lose first set in this kind of match and with this kind of opponent, Nole tends to do walkabouts every now and then, hopefully not in the finals (though he had unexplained walkabouts in the few very important finals). Last but not least, Medvedev is very cunning and likes to play mind games, which he is very good at.
These are only few things that work in a favour of Medevedev, though he is trying to offload pressure on Nole, he has big pressure too, this is his 3rd GS final and he certainly doesn’t want to go down third time.

That’s is the reason why I give advantage to Medvedev in the final, not because he is better player, because he isn’t.
By saying all of this, I never expected Nole to make his fourth GS final (I explained why before USO), I am more than happy with this result and want be that disappointed if Medvedev wins, don’t forget, he has to go to 3 top 10 players to win it, three best in the world atm bar Tsitsipas, that’s a hell of task, it will be miracle if he wins.
As van Orten stated, nothing is going to change after final if he loses, he already achieved unthinkable in the golden era of tennis.
Cheers and let’s hope and pray for the best and be in the moment and enjoy the moment as you would say.

Dave Says:


I was going to wait to write the whole match up break down for why Djokovic will beat Medvedev. But I’ll do it now. I was thinking about what you were talking about if only he had Medvedevs head on his shoulders. Medvedev is mentally stronger than Zverev and Tsitsipas on a consistency basis. But……Once you crack Medvedev and he gets angry, he crashes pretty bad and doesn’t recover. Against Nadal up 5-1 in the final set in London. In the Australian Open final this year his level dropped and he was getting angry. He completely stops caring and just starts smashing the ball hard around the court. He has his vulnerability as well. The only player that played proper tactics against Medvedev was the qualifier, sorry I can’t remember his name. And he didn’t use the tactics until the third set. And ran out of stamina at the end of the fourth. He traded with Medvedev in long rallies over and over and Medvedev got tired too and then started making more unforced errors. Here’s how tiredness works. The guy that’s doing more of the dictating in the rallies uses up less energy. There’s no way that will be Medvedev. He doesn’t have the firepower to do it. Djokovic will be able to dictate way more. Also, Medvedev standing so far back for returning serve also means he has to run more. Don’t underestimate Djokovics stamina either. There’s no way Medvedev will outlast Djokovic if it comes down to that. Just ask Tsitsipas. Djokovic played a very physical 4 hour and 11 minute Semifinal against Nadal and had no issues physically. He also played a 4 set match against Berrettini in the QFs at the French Open and a 5 set match in the 4th round and was totally fine In the final. And don’t forget he played 4 matches in Belgrade right before the French Open. He took a month off before the US Open. So I honestly don’t see him losing the stamina battle to Medvedev. No disrespect to Medvedev, but if Murray and Thiem didn’t win in their first 3 major finals what makes Medvedev a more well rounded player than them? He’s not. Djokovic is serving out wide at his peak right now. Medvedev stands so far back on return. He will need to adjust his return position or get burned a lot. Djokovic will serve out wide and get a ton of free points and he will serve and volley. If Medvedev adjusts his return position and moves closer he will be more vulnerable to the serve down the T. Zverev the way he played this summer and last night was a bigger problem matchup wise against Djokovic than Medvedev. Zverev hits his forehand consistently harder. He hits his backhand harder. His first serve is better and he gets such a high percent of first serves in as well, He is able to make Djokovic more uncomfortable than Medvedev can with his game. If Djokovic broke the Zverev serve 6 times and the Berrettini serve 5 times, he isn’t going to have a problem breaking Medvedev. Unless Djokovic plays horrible because of the pressure or has physical issues, he can’t lose to Medvedev in a best of 5 set match. Don’t look at best of 3 set matches against Medvedev as a reference point. Djokovic didn’t fight or care even close to as much as he does in majors. In majors it’s 6 sets to 1 for Djokovic. And the one set he lost, he could have easily won it was so close.

Wog Boy Says:

Thanks for the reply Dave, let’s just sit back and enjoy the final, what is bound to happen will happen.
This is one of the best USO in the long long time, I agree with Brad Gilbert and other ESPN commentators on that one.

I had to laugh on the one qualifier that you can’t remember the name, don’t worry, nobody could remember it nor pronounce it, that was Dutch bloke, very nice and likeable, who actually was playing very nice, easy on eyes tennis.

skeezer Says:

“ This is one of the best USO in the long long time ”
Yes the two teens stole the show! WTA rocks!

Dave Says:

Wog Boy,

I’m glad I made you laugh. I enjoy his tennis too. He seems like a nice person for sure. I have a confession to make. I haven’t been able to watch most of the Djokovic matches live. The tension has been too much for me to handle. Lol. So chances are I won’t be able to watch the match live. Even though it hasn’t been happening this week, I wouldn’t be surprised if Djokovic wins the first set.

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