Novak Djokovic v Daniil Medvedev For The US Open Title, Who’s The Pick?
The 2023 Grand Slam tennis season comes down to one final match, and it’s a good one. Though not the one many of us thought.
Daniil Medvedev dispatched Carlos Alcaraz Friday night in a mild upset of the defending champ. And that spoilt the dream US Open final between Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic.
But Medvedev v Djokovic isn’t all that bad, right?
As for the semifinals, I was awfully surprised Ben Shelton didn’t bring the high heat in his semifinal with Djokovic. Novak was basically sleepwalking through the match, untroubled until Shelton finally decided to start unloading, but that was well into the third set and well too late.
Credit to Djokovic for staying strong on his serve and making the kid play too many balls. Though once again Djokovic wobbled at the finish line.
Medvedev played a near-perfect match to get back on top of Alcaraz. The difference was razor thin in the first hour but I think Medvedev’s ability to get that extra ball back and use the angles finally broke Alcaraz down. And in the second you tell the youngster had given up. He didn’t know what to do against the “octopus” man.
At Wimbledon, I said Alcaraz was learning on the job. Friday, he threw in the towel. He didn’t want to put the work in to beat Medvedev which would mean going deep into the rallies. Instead, it was dropshot after dropshot and Medvedev’s speed and pressure made the tactic far less successful.
But Medvedev served really well and hit with depth. And that was the key.
So what happens in the final?
Novak Djokovic v Daniil Medvedev
If this was Djokovic v Alcaraz it’s an easy pick: Alcaraz. But this is complicated.
I’m not convinced Djokovic is that sharp nor am I convinced Medvedev is, either. Yes, Medvedev played great Friday but for the summer, he’s been spotty. Andrey Rublev led with breaks in all three of their sets. Christopher O’Connell got a set, and so on.
Djokovic dropped two to Laslo Djere, and maybe should have lost one to Shelton. But a win is a win. So here we are.
Head-to-head, it’s Novak with a 9-5 lead but nothing matters except that 2021 final when Medvedev blew him out. And I’m inclined to think that’s what happens again.
At 36, I don’t think Djokovic’s “highs” are as high as they were 10 years ago. If Medvedev plays at his peak, he wins.
Djokovic will be out for revenge for 2021, he’s going for 24 and he should be fresher and in a better state of mind than 2021. “Big motivation” as he likes to say.
“I understand every time in a Grand Slam final, it’s another shot for history,” Djokovic said. “I’m aware of it, and of course I’m very proud of it, but I don’t have much time, nor do I allow myself to reflect on these things or think about the history too much in this sense. When I did that in the past, like the 2021 final here, I was maybe overwhelmed with the occasion and the opportunity, and I underperformed.
“I don’t want this to happen again, and I’ll try to just focus on what needs to be done and tactically prepare myself for that match.”
Medvedev doesn’t have any fear, he’s won the US Open before and he’s got the experience of beating Djokovic in this final.
“I think the only way I can use is thinking that Novak, when he loses, he’s never the same after. He’s different. It’s just a different mentality,” said Medvedev of Djokovic’s mindset after losing in 2021. “That’s why he has 23 Grand Slams, Masters 1000s and weeks at No. 1.
“So I have to use it knowing that he’s going to be 10 times better than he was that day, and I have to be, if I want to still beat him, 10 times better than I was that day. That’s what I’m going to try to do.
“Novak is going to be his best version on Sunday, and I have to be the best-ever version of myself if I want to try to beat him.”
To me, the match comes down to how well Medvedev serves and shrinks the court. It’s much like what we saw from Coco Gauff — just keep getting balls back to frustrate the opponent. Only in this case, Djokovic won’t mind it. But if Medvedev holds easily then he can take a few more risks on the Djokovic serve and do damage.
They say “Defense wins championships” and Coco Gauff proved that Saturday. So why not 2-for-2. I’m going with the Russian wall.
The Pick: Daniil Medvedev in 5
You Might Like:
Novak Djokovic v Daniil Medvedev For The Australian Open Title, Who’s The Pick?
Rafael Nadal v Daniil Medvedev For The US Open Title, Who’s The Pick?
Rafael Nadal v Daniil Medvedev For The Australian Open Title, Who’s The Pick?
Daniil Medvedev Is Soaking In His US Open Win
Novak Djokovic v Daniil Medvedev For The US Open Title, History; Who’s The Pick?