We are here! I never thought I’d see it in my lifetime, but a men’s player is three sets from winning the Calendar Grand Slam. That’s what Novak Djokovic will be fighting for (and more) tomorrow when he meets Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final.
Friday night, Djokovic once again made things difficult for himself, digging out from a set down and then winning in five over a game Alexander Zverev.
There were flashes of brilliance and moments of mistakes, but that’s how Djokovic has been rolling these days.
Meanwhile, Medvedev is also rolling. The Russian has lost just one set en route to his third Grand Slam final. Yesterday, he came from a break down in the second — and really should have lost the second — to ease past the overwhelmed Felix Auger-Aliassime.
The Canadian will be back as will Zverev. I think they will each eventually collect Grand Slam titles, and Medvedev will, too. Just not this week. Not with what’s at stake for Novak.
Djokovic’s life, his legacy and career all come down to one single match tomorrow. Three sets. If he wins and completes the Calendar Grand Slam — something that hasn’t been done since 1969 when Rod Laver won all four Slams on TWO surfaces — and passes rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at 21 in the process, he is the unquestionable and undeniable greatest ever. It’s not even close.
Goodbye Roger. Goodbye Rafa. You two might have the fans and love, but Djokovic has the GOAT label and will keep it for at least 10-15 years.
To the matchup.
Novak Djokovic v Daniil Medvedev
Medvedev spoke at the start of the event of wanting to do everything he and his young gen buddies could to stop Djokovic from the record. Well, six have failed and now it’s down to him.
The lanky, unathletic looking 25-year-old does have three wins over Djokovic in eight meetings. And if you are going to beat Djokovic, the US Open seems like a good place to do it. It’s where he’s had his strangest and most surprising losses and where the Big 3 have run into the most resistance.
But with so much on the line and all that he’s been through — coming from two sets down twice at the French, a bad exit from the Olympics and all the comebacks this week — I just have to think he’ll find a way.
This is really a day Djokovic has to have dreamt of. A chance once and for all to prove he’s the best. To do something few have ever done, and reach heights Roger and Rafa never will or have even come close to.
And what makes it so great is that it’s one shot. He misses tomorrow, and he won’t get another one. That’s it. He missed on the Golden Slam, I just don’t think he’ll miss twice.
Medvedev does have other ideas. He’s a great defender. Arguably the best in the game. He gets a lot of ball back and will do so again tomorrow. I just don’t know if he can rely on Djokovic making mistakes to win.
And of late, what has Medvedev done? Who has he beaten? He’s on a nice run but his last Top 10 win if you can believe was way back in February at the Australian Open over Stefanos Tsitsipas.
He lost to Tsitsipas at the French, Hubert Hurkacz at Wimbledon and then Andrey Rublev in Cincinnati (with an assist to the camera). And to make the US Open final, he played one guy in the Top 25, that being No. 15 Auger-Aliassime.
So maybe in the time of need he might doubt himself. We’ll see. But winning is winning and that’s what he’s done. So he comes in full of confidence.
The two will meet for a ninth time with the Serb ahead 5-3. But again, in best-of-5 it is 3-0 Djokovic. And that’s a big issue for these young guys. Winning one set or even two is reasonable, but three sets on a big stage for a big title is a different ask.
Many have tried and many have failed in a Slam final. Outside of Federer and Nadal, the list is just Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray.
To win, Medvedev will need Djokovic to continue making errors and be off on his serve. The big guy will also have to be a little more offensive.
Djokovic will have to be clutch again on serves and connect on his groundies. He might even use the dropshot again. If he’s off in any way, he’ll lose. That’s where Medvedev gets you.
Medvedev talks like he’s ready, now he’ll have to walk it. We know Djokovic will.
The Pick: Djokovic in 4
ESPN will have live coverage of the history-making match starting at 4pm ET. Let’s see how this 2021 Grand Slam season wraps up!
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