Wednesday , September 22 2021

US Open 2021: Medvedev stands in way as Djokovic aims for calendar Grand Slam

Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Novak Djokovic vs Daniil Medvedev,
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File photos of Novak Djokovic (left) and Daniil Medvedev.

Russia’s Daniil Medvedev will look to deny Serbian Novak Djokovic his 21st major, which will also make him just the third man to complete the calendar Grand Slam, when the two clash in US Open men’s final later on Sunday.

After two runner-up finishes in major finals, the 25-year-old Medvedev is more than ready to join the club of Grand Slam champions and begin building his own legacy on tennis’ greatest stage.

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Twice before, the world No. 2 Medvedev has done his best to overcome heavy odds in a Grand Slam final — at Flushing Meadows two years ago, when he came close against Spain’s Rafael Nadal and at this year’s Australian Open, where Djokovic comfortably beat him.

“I think from my side, of course… if I can make this, I’ll probably be in the history books a little bit somewhere like not letting him do this (earn a calendar Grand Slam). But I don’t really care about it. I think it’s more about him, that it affects him,” Medvedev told atptour.com.

“From one side, for sure he’s going to feel the pressure a little bit about it… From the other side, that’s what’s going to make him be even better in tough moments… Here we know that he will do everything to try to make it happen… I’m just going to throw it everything, and I’m definitely not going to be thinking about [his] Grand Slam or whatever.”

If Medvedev wins, he will become the first Russian man to triumph at this level since Marat Safin at the 2005 Australian Open. He has dropped just one set this campaign — to qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands in the quarterfinals — cruising past 24th seed Daniel Evans of UK and 12th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada either side of that clash.

It has been a far more straightforward run to his second US Open final than two years ago, when only two of his six matches en route to the final came in straight sets. “Two years ago was a completely different tournament. First of all, the story with the fans. This year kind of didn’t have anything. It was just smooth,” said Medvedev.

“[In] 2019, actually before the story with the fans, I was cramping, couldn’t almost walk in my second-round match. I managed to win it [defeat Hugo Dellien of Bolivia], almost couldn’t walk. There were some crazy matches, some crazy turnarounds.

“I remember playing against [Stan] Wawrinka, I tore my quadriceps… I managed to win the match. I had two days off, so I managed to heal it… This year I didn’t have the stories, and that’s a good thing. I have the experience of two finals of Slams that can help me… The only thing I can say is all that I have left, I’m going to throw it out on Sunday.”

Djokovic leads the pair’s ATP head-to-head 5-3, including their only meeting this season for the first of his three majors this season.

“It’s going to be a battle against another guy who has been in tremendous form, Medvedev. He’s won a lot of matches on hard court so far. We played earlier this year in the Australian Open final,” Djokovic said.

“He’s already had a couple of Grand Slam finals behind him. I think experience-wise it’s different for him now. I’m sure he’s going to give it all to win it, to win his first Slam. On the other side, I’ll be giving it all I possibly got in the tank to win this match. I’m focusing on recovery, recalibrating all the systems basically for Sunday. I’m not going to waste time or energy on anything that can just be a distraction and deplete me from the vital energy that I need,” said Djokovic.

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