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By Erik Gudris | @ATNTennis | Wednesday September 8, 2021


Novak Djokovic proved yet again he is the marathon man at the majors as he soared in four sets to reach the US Open semifinals.

Tennis Express

The World No. 1 outlasted No. 6 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 in the recent Wimbledon final rematch. The victory puts Djokovic just two wins away from the calendar Grand Slam. Djokovic, 26-0 at the Grand Slams in 2021, is trying to become the first man to achieve the rare feat since Rod Laver in 1969.

"It was a great match" Djokovic said during the on-court interview afterwards. "I was locked in, really, from the beginning of the second set. I put my tennis to a different level. It's been the best three sets I've played in the tournament so far, for sure.

True words from the 20-time major winner as Djokovic needed extra time to get his game in groove despite a strong effort from the 25-year-old Italian to make it a close contest.

Both men stayed level with each other throughout a tight 77-minute opening set, which included an enthralling 20-point game that took each man to deuce seven times. Berrettini's forehand kept him alive in the first set and proved decisive when he needed it to count.

Late in the set, Berrettini ripped a crucial forehand pass to give him a needed service break for 6-5 in the first set. Despite Berrettini missing out on three set points, a Djokovic groundstroke misfire allowed the Italian to eventually take the set 7-5.

Yet, Djokovic, as he so often does, was just getting his groove on. The top seed soon broke Berrettini to take a 3-1 lead in the second set. Though Berrettini tried not to let the set get away from him completely, it was only a matter of time before Djokovic once again broke Berrettini's serve to seal the set 6-2 and level at one set each.

From there, Djokovic took control.

Djokovic went up an early service break in the third set as more errors began to leak from Berrettini's racquet. Though the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof was closed due to impending rain in the area, the delay did nothing to dent Djokovic's momentum.

Djokovic, who broke serve to soon take a 4-1 advantage, was forced to battle in the crucial seventh game. But he eventually took the third set 6-2. The 20-time major champion controlled the set by hitting 12 winners to just three unforced errors.

From there, Djokovic assumed command in the fourth set as he secured yet another early service break. Djokovic's forehand proved a vital finishing shot from the Serbian in long rallies with Berrettini who appeared to run out of steam late in the match. Soon, Djokovic, as he did in the Wimbledon final, walked away with a satisfying four set win over the powerful Italian.

Berrettini reflect on the match later by saying, "I was feeling good, playing good. Just he has this ability, and probably that's why he's the best ever, just to step up his game, his level all the time. Doesn't matter how well I play, he just plays better."

Next up for Djokovic is No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev, the man who defeated Djokovic recently at the Summer Games in Tokyo en route to winning the gold medal in men's singles.

Djokovic looks forward to the rematch despite the German being on a 16-match win streak, including winning the Cincinnati title.

"I know it's going to be battle, even harder than it was today. But I'm ready for it. Look, these are the hurdles that I need to overcome in order to get to the desired destination. Result is something that I can't predict, but I can definitely put myself in the best possible state of mind and body to perform as well as I can."

 

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