MENS FINAL PREVIEW
NOVAK DJOKOVIC (1) V DANIIL MEDVEDEV (2)
HEAD TO HEAD: DJOKOVIC LEADS 5-3
After 14 days of toil we reach the final chapter of the 2021 US Open, where the world number 1 and 2 will battle it out in what will be a history making occasion no matter what the result.
Novak Djokovic stands on the cusp of tennis immortality (if he isn’t there already) with one win needed to be the first male since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete the calendar slam.
He would also jump into outright first place with 21 major titles, a record that once he takes, he will likely never relinquish for as long as tennis is played on this earth.
The world number one has amassed 27 consecutive victories at grand slam level this year, and remarkably he has won 10 of them after dropping the opening set.
His path to the final in New York hasn’t been smooth, with 5 players taking a set off him, including a gruelling battle with Alexander Zverev in the semi final on Friday night.
On paper it’s about as hard a run as the Serb could face, when you factor in the mini changing of the guard in the absence of Nadal/Federer it’s fair to suggest on hard courts his biggest threats would be Zverev, Medvedev and Berrettini.
In order to win this title he will have had to defeat all 3 of those challengers in consecutive matches.
Djokovic has looked gettable at times, but he often does, but when faced with pressure he constantly raises his performance to a level that no one can stay with for long enough, as was evident in that Zverev contest.
Djokovic spoke about his reputation for fighting it out in his pre final press conference.
"Probably all these big matches that I won, big titles over the years, have kind of built that kind of aura around me that players know there's a never-die spirit with me, especially when I play Grand Slams," Djokovic said. "They know that until the last shot, you know, things can turn around, which was the case in several occasions throughout my career."
When asked about the pressure of history that sits in front of him, Djokovic referenced Serena’s heartbreaking loss at the 2015 US Open that denied her a chance.
"I remember in 2015, I won US Open," he said. "I was talking to Serena. She was very emotional about everything that was going on. I can relate to what she's been going through right now. I understand it now. Obviously, once you're in that situation, you can really comprehend what a player goes through."
His opponent Daniil Medvedev is one of the best hard court players in the world, and entered the US Open on the back of a terrific American season.
He also reached the final of the Australian Open earlier this year, where he lost to Djokovic in straight sets.
He reflected on that performance in reference to his own expectations ahead of tomorrow.
"I think the thing that I understand, I always give my best, but I feel like I didn't leave my heart on the court in Melbourne," he 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% 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."
Medvedev’s serve has been outstanding, with 70 aces and more than 80% of points won on first serve.
His backhand has also been equal parts lethal and solid as a rock, and in contrast to Djokovic, he has dropped just one set on his path to the final.
This is Medvedev’s third trip to a Grand Slam final, he was very good in his first appearance which came at New York in 2019 where he lost in five sets to Nadal, but was very poor in the other when swept aside by Djokovic at the Australian Open this year.
Can he break through and be the first of the next generation of stars to topple Djokovic in a Grand Slam Final?
He is certainly up to it, but Djokovic has been unbreakable in 2021 and it’s hard to see him missing this opportunity to carve out a very special piece of history.
Beware the brilliant Russian, but I think Djokovic gets it done in four.
Listen to The First Serve with Brett Phillips and Sam Groth wrap up the US Open on Monday 13th September at 7pm AEST on 1116AM SEN Melbourne, 1629AM SEN SA / replayed at 8pm AEST on 1170am Sydney or listen live and catch up on the SEN App.
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