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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday September 10, 2021


27 down, one to go, and a full head of steam for the final.

Novak Djokovic avenged his heartbreaking loss to Alexander Zverev at the Tokyo Olympics with a spirited five-set victory over the No.4-seeded German to book his spot in the final and move one victory from becoming the first player to claim the calendar Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.

Tennis Express

Djokovic won 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to improve to 27-0 at the majors in 2021 and 10-0 when he drops the first set at the majors.

The match was close, and Zverev played extremely well in spurts, but Djokovic took the drama out of the fifth set early by breaking for 2-0 and again for 4-0, before closing out the victory in three hours and 34 minutes to set a final with Daniil Medvedev.

“Biggest battle I had so far in the tournament,” Djokovic said of snapping the 16-match winning streak of the German. “It was expected. I mean, Zverev was in tremendous form. He hasn't dropped too many sets in this tournament. He was on a roll, winning Olympics, winning Cincinnati. I knew that he's going to be a huge challenge and task to overcome Zverev tonight and to prevail.”


Djokovic finished with 41 winners and 49 unforced, but the stats don’t tell the story. The World No.1 was brilliant when he had to be in this contest, he answered every challenge Zverev mounted and was exceptional in the second, third and fifth sets.

“It was a great battle,” Zverev said. “Kind of a little bit disappointed with the start of the fifth set. To be honest, apart from that, it was a good match. I think we both left it all out there. The second break in the fifth set was so ridiculously unlucky that it sometimes happen. But he's No. 1 in the world for a reason and he showed that tonight.”

Djokovic has been reticent when asked to talk about the Calendar Slam in New York, and during his post-match press conference he was careful with his words as he tried to express his desire to simplify his mission and keep his mind free of distractions.

The Serb, who will play a record 31st Grand Slam final on Sunday, improved fo 4-0 in five-setters at the Slams in 2021 and 36-10 overall.

“I'm just trying to lock into what I know works for me,” he said. “I have my routines, I have my people. I isolate myself. I gather all the necessary energy for the next battle, only the next match, the next match. I said it on the court. I'm going to treat this match as it's my last one because it's arguably the most important one of my career maybe. Maybe not, I don't know. But of this year, for sure.”


Djokovic has faced Medvedev eight times in his career, and won five of those battles, including a dominant performance in this year’s Australian Open final, when he lost just nine games to the Russian.

Medvedev has won 18 of his last 20 matches at the US Open and hopes he can bring a lot more to the table on Sunday when he plays his second US Open final and his third overall.

“I always give my best, but I feel like I didn't leave my heart on the court in Melbourne,” Medvedev said. “Even if of course I wanted to, there was something not turning up this match. That's what I'm going to try to do on Arthur Ashe with hopefully 100 percent of fans. No matter the score, I'm just going to turn up the heat, if I can say, and try to do my best, even more than what I did in Melbourne.”

 

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