US Open 2021: Novak Djokovic on verge of history against Daniil Medvedev

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Novak Djokovic is seeking a 21st Grand Slam title
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Date: 12 September Time: 21:00 BST
Coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra/BBC Sport website and app, plus live text commentary and report on the website and app

Novak Djokovic will bid to become the first man to complete the calendar Grand Slam in 52 years on Sunday when he meets Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final.

Twenty-four hours after Emma Raducanu’s momentous win, Djokovic could create more tennis history by becoming the first male player since Australian Rod Laver to win all four major titles in the same year.

A win for the Serb would also give him a 21st Grand Slam singles title, taking him one clear of the men’s record jointly held by his great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Standing in the 34-year-old’s way is the second seed Medvedev, who Djokovic beat to win his first Slam of the year in the Australian Open final in February.

Djokovic has spent more time on court than he would have liked en route to his ninth final in New York and at times has knocked back questions on his quest to win the calendar Slam.

Medvedev, meanwhile, has dropped only one set in reaching his third major final as the 25-year-old seeks to win one the sport’s biggest prizes for the first time.

One match between Djokovic and history

Djokovic has tried his best to play down the significance of winning a fourth US Open title this week but it is impossible to ignore.

In the near endless debate to name the greatest men’s player of all-time, were Djokovic to add the US Open crown to those he won in Melbourne, Paris and Wimbledon earlier this year, a feat neither Federer or Nadal have achieved, it could be a defining moment.

During his post-match interview after his quarter-final win over Matteo Berrettini, Djokovic cut off his interviewer when realising he was going to have to field another question on the subject.

“I just said millions of times that of course I’m aware of the history, of course it gives me motivation,” he said later. “If I start to think about it too much, it burdens me mentally.”

Djokovic needed five sets to beat Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals – only one of his matches has been won in straight sets – but afterwards did hint at the importance of Sunday’s showpiece.

“I’m going to treat this match as it’s my last one because it’s arguably the most important one of my career maybe,” he said.

“Maybe not, I don’t know. But of this year, for sure.

“It’s going to be a battle against another guy who has been in tremendous form.

“He’s already had 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.”

Players who have won a calendar Grand Slam in singles include Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Rod Laver, Margaret Court and Steffi Graf
Novak Djokovic would become only the fifth player to win a calendar Grand Slam in singles

Medvedev not focussing on spoiling party

Daniil Medvedev will play in his third Grand Slam final
Daniil Medvedev will play in his third Grand Slam final

Djokovic may be eyeing a record 21st Slam but Medvedev hopes to win his maiden major title after losing in his two previous final appearances.

The Russian lost to Nadal in New York in five sets in 2019 and was also beaten by Djokovic in this year’s Australian Open final.

“If I can make this, I’m probably [going to be] be in the history books a little bit somewhere but I don’t really care about it [stopping Djokovic],” Medvedev said.

“From one side, for sure he’s going to feel the pressure a little bit about it. From the other side, that is what is going to make him be even better in tough moments.”

Medvedev became the pantomime villain during his last run to the final at Flushing Meadows two years ago, inciting boos from the crowd before winning them over in an enthralling final.

“This year I didn’t have the stories, and that’s a good thing,” he said.

“I have the experience of two finals of Slams that can help me – doesn’t mean it will, but can help me. The only thing I can say is all what I have left, I’m going to throw it out on Sunday.

The 25-year-old has also spent five hours and 35 minutes less on court than Djokovic, dropping just one set in six matches.

“Yeah, in a way it was definitely smooth,” he added. “You know how Grand Slams are: even if you get to the final without losing a set, all the matches going to be tough in their own way.

“There were some tight moments. There were some tight battles. It’s never easy, but I’m happy that I managed to save a lot of physical abilities, physical power, and mental power.”

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