The US Open men’s singles final was half what we expected: Djokovic vs Medvedev

Follow live notifications US Open Men’s Final Between Novak Djokovic and Daniel Medvedev.

From the day the men’s singles draw came out, Novak Djokovic’s path to another US Open final was clear, and that set him up for a clash with Carlos Algarz, a rematch of this year’s Wimbledon final.

This US Open men’s final will see a rematch between Djokovic and Algarz. Russia’s Daniil Medvedev will face Djokovic for the championship Sunday at 4 p.m. Eastern after defeating Algaraz in four sets on Friday night.

It would be a rematch of the 2021 US Open final, which Medvedev won, stopping Djokovic from completing a calendar grand slam that year.

Here’s what you need to know about Sunday’s match:

On paper, Djokovic appears to have advanced to the championship match. He won five of the six matches he played in straight sets. But he encountered some stiff opposition along the way. In the third round, Djokovic ran into trouble when he lost the first two sets to fellow Serbian Laszlo Djere. But Djokovic was able to get his lead back around 1:30 p.m

In the quarterfinals, Djokovic faced top-ranked American Taylor Fritz, and in the semifinals, he faced rising young American Ben Shelton.

The road to the final was a bit bumpier for Medvedev than for Djokovic. Two of Medvedev’s matches went to four sets, against Christopher O’Connell in the second round and Alex de Minaur in the fourth round.

Medvedev’s fiercest opposition came when he played Algaraz in Friday’s semifinals. After the first set went to a tiebreaker, it looked like the fans were going to settle in for a long night. But Medvedev won the second set 6-1. Algaraz won the third but couldn’t gain much traction, sending Medvedev to the final.

Medvedev and Djokovic have reached the US Open final before. Two years ago, Djokovic won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in one year (he competed in the Tokyo Olympics that year, but didn’t medal, thus missing his chance at a Golden Slam).

Djokovic only needs to win the US Open to complete the Grand Slam title.

But Medvedev spoiled the party. Medvedev won the 2021 US Open final in straight sets, denying Djokovic to complete the calendar slam.

The match was strange at times, with Djokovic showing emotions the fans weren’t used to. At one point in the third set, Djokovic covered his face with a towel, then showed himself crying and shaking, a sign of how much the calendar slam meant to him.

Medvedev said on Friday that Djokovic has found ways to bounce back from losses, making this year’s finals more difficult.

“If he loses, he’s never the same,” Medvedev said of the 2021 final. “He’ll be 10 times better than he was that day, and if I still want to beat him, I have to be 10 times better than he was that day.”

Djokovic and Medvedev have played 14 times, with Djokovic winning nine. Their most recent match was in March in Dubai, where Medvedev won 6-4, 6-4.

Medvedev could spoil Djokovic’s shot at the 2021 Grand Slam, Medvedev admitted on Friday night that playing Djokovic is not easy.

“Novak will be his best version on Sunday,” Medvedev said. “If I want to try to beat him, I have to be the best version of myself.”

Anytime Djokovic plays in a Grand Slam final, history is likely to unfold. With 23 Grand Slam titles, Djokovic trails Rafael Nadal with 22 titles and Roger Federer with 20 Grand Slam titles.

With Federer now retired and Nadal out of action due to injury, Djokovic has a chance to distance himself from his peers in men’s tennis’ Big Three. But Djokovic said Friday night that he tried not to focus too much on the numbers.

“I’m aware of it and of course I’m very proud of it,” he said. “But then again, I don’t have much time or allow myself to think about these things.”

Djokovic recalled a similar historic weigh-in when he lost in the 2021 US Open final and said he did not want it to happen again.

“I will try to focus on what I have to do and prepare myself tactically for that match,” he said.

For those who have paid close attention to players like Frances Tiafoe, Carlos Algarz and Ben Sheldon in this tournament, watching Medvedev play might raise a big question: why does he stand so far from the baseline and go back?

This may seem like a disadvantage for Medvedev, but he uses that position to his advantage. By standing far from the baseline, sometimes as much as 20 feet, Medvedev gives himself more time to return serve. At point he uses tact as a tool to strengthen his position; By starting from behind the baseline, he guarantees that he will advance as the point grows.

The strategy, of course, has its downsides. By staying too far back and taking too much time, Medvedev leaves more court space open and gives his opponents more time to get into a favorable position for their next stroke after the serve.

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