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Thursday, April 18, 2024

The U.S. Open Males’s Singles We Solely Half Anticipated: Djokovic vs. Medvedev

From the day the boys’s singles draw got here out, the trail for Novak Djokovic to achieve one more U.S. Open last appeared clear, and appeared to arrange for a showdown with Carlos Alcaraz, which might have been a rematch of this yr’s Wimbledon last.

This U.S. Open males’s last will get a rematch — simply not between Djokovic and Alcaraz. Daniil Medvedev of Russia, after defeating Alcaraz on Friday evening in 4 units, will play Djokovic on Sunday afternoon for the championship.

It will likely be a rematch of the 2021 U.S. Open last, which Medvedev received, stopping Djokovic from finishing a calendar Grand Slam that yr.

Right here’s what you could know concerning the match on Sunday:

On paper, it could appear that Djokovic has battered his means via to the championship match. He received 5 of his six matches in straight units. However he has confronted some formidable opposition alongside the way in which. Within the third spherical, Djokovic bumped into bother when he dropped the primary two units to Laslo Djere, a fellow Serbian. However Djokovic was in a position to will his means again to win, wrapping up at round 1:30 a.m.

Within the quarterfinals, Djokovic confronted Taylor Fritz, the best ranked American man, and within the semifinals, he took on Ben Shelton, a rising younger American.

The street to the ultimate has been barely bumpier for Medvedev than Djokovic. Two of Medvedev’s matches had been pushed to 4 units, within the second spherical in opposition to Christopher O’Connell and once more within the fourth spherical in opposition to Alex de Minaur.

Medvedev’s’ hardest opposition got here within the semifinals on Friday, when he performed Alcaraz. After the primary set went to a tiebreaker, it appeared like followers had been about to settle in for an extended evening. However Medvedev dominantly took the second set, 6-1. Alcaraz received the third however couldn’t acquire extra traction than that, sending Medvedev to the ultimate.

Medvedev and Djokovic have been in a U.S. Open last earlier than. Two years in the past, Djokovic was trying to full the calendar Grand Slam, having received the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon multi functional yr (he additionally competed within the Tokyo Olympics that yr, however didn’t medal and thus misplaced his likelihood for a Golden Slam).

All Djokovic wanted to finish the Grand Slam was win the U.S. Open.

However Medvedev spoiled the celebration. Medvedev went on to win the 2021 U.S. Open last in straight units, holding Djokovic from finishing the calendar slam.

The match was weird at occasions, and in it, Djokovic displayed feelings followers aren’t used to seeing. At one level within the third set, Djokovic coated his face with a towel after which appeared to start crying and shaking, an indication of how a lot finishing the calendar slam meant to him.

Medvedev mentioned on Friday that Djokovic finds methods to enhance after losses, making this yr’s last tougher.

“When he loses, he’s by no means the identical after,” Medvedev mentioned, referring to the 2021 last. “He’s going to be 10 occasions higher than he was that day, and I’ve to be, if I wish to nonetheless beat him, 10 occasions higher than I used to be that day.”

Djokovic and Medvedev have performed one another 14 occasions, and Djokovic has had the benefit with 9 wins. Their most up-to-date matchup was in March at a match in Dubai, which Medvedev received, 6-4, 6-4.

Whereas Medvedev was in a position to spoil Djokovic’s shot on the Grand Slam in 2021, Medvedev acknowledged on Friday evening that enjoying Djokovic received’t be simple.

“Novak goes to be his finest model on Sunday,” Medvedev mentioned. “And I’ve to be the all-time model of myself if I wish to attempt to beat him.”

Anytime Djokovic performs in a Grand Slam last, there’s the potential for historical past to unfold. With 23 Grand Slam titles, Djokovic has surpassed Rafael Nadal, who has 22, and Roger Federer, with 20.

With Federer now retired and Nadal away from the sport due to an damage, Djokovic has the prospect to distance himself from his counterparts within the Huge Three of males’s tennis. However Djokovic mentioned on Friday evening that he has tried to not focus an excessive amount of on the numbers.

“I’m conscious of it, and naturally I’m very happy with it,” he mentioned. “However once more, I don’t have a lot time nor do I permit myself to mirror on these items.”

Djokovic recalled an analogous historic weight when he misplaced the 2021 U.S. Open last, and mentioned he doesn’t need that to occur once more.

“I’ll attempt to simply give attention to what must be completed and tactically put together myself for that match,” he mentioned.

Those that have been extra targeted this match on gamers like Frances Tiafoe, Carlos Alcaraz, and Ben Shelton, could have one large query on their minds once they watch Medvedev play: Why does he stand thus far again from the baseline to return serves?

It’d appear to be a drawback to Medvedev, however he makes use of the place in his favor. By standing so far-off from the baseline, typically as much as 20 ft, Medvedev provides himself extra time to return the serve. He additionally makes use of the tactic as a device to strengthen his positioning through the level itself; by beginning far behind the baseline, he all however ensures that he’ll transfer ahead as the purpose develops.

The technique, after all, has its cons. By standing thus far again and taking extra time, Medvedev leaves extra courtroom area open and offers his opponents extra time to get into an advantageous place for his or her subsequent stroke after the serve.

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