New York: World No. 1 Novak Djokovic gave his all at the Flushing Meadows to avenge his Tokyo Olympic loss against Germany’s Alexander Zverev, beating him 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 at the US Open 2021 Men’s Semi Finals to set up the title clash against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in a quest for a Calendar Slam.
Djokovic battled past the German in a five set thriller and inched closer to becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete a Grand Slam by bagging all four major titles in a single season.
Making it into his record ninth US Open final, the Serb also equaled Swiss Legend Roger Federer’s record of 31st grand Slam final.
"I would like to say thank you, because the atmosphere was amazing, the best atmosphere of the tournament so far," Djokovic told the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.
"These are the moments we live for. These are the kind of unique opportunities that we dream of every day when we wake up and are trying to find motivation to go out there and do the same things over and over again," Djokovic told atptour.com.
"It pays off when you are playing in this incredible stadium with this atmosphere. Thank you so much for making it special."
For most of the match, Djokovic was patient. But after gaining a double-break lead in the decider, the world No. 1, who is currently tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 Slam titles each, stepped on the gas to victory after three hours and 33 minutes.
Djokovic, who will be up against second seed Daniil Medvedev for the Year Slam glory on Sunday, has already clinched the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year. A victory in the finals against the Russian would take his Grand Slam tally to 21.
"I'm going to treat the next match like it's the last match of my career," Djokovic said.
Zverev was by far the Serbian’s toughest test yet. It was also for the 10th time this year, that Djokovic lost the opening set at a major.
But this occasion was believed to be trickier, as the German had not only defeated him six weeks ago, but he also walked into the court for the big match on a career-best 16-match winning streak.
"Alexander is a big champion. He's someone that I admire on and off the court. We get along very well, he's definitely one of my best friends. We train a lot, we see each other a lot in Monaco, [which] he uses as a base," Djokovic said. "He's a great guy and an even better player. I knew coming onto the court today that it was going to be a great battle."
On a day when neither player was at his absolute best, Djokovic put all his experience into play and maintained his composure during key moments to serve brilliantly under pressure and emerge victorious.
Djokovic is now 36-10 in five-setters and Zverev is 16-10. This year, the world No. 1 is 4-0 and the recent Cincinnati champion is 1-3. Djokovic leads the pair's ATP head-to-head series 7-3.
Zverev's big serves troubled Djokovic early on, allowing the German to race to the lead. But after claiming the first set, the German got off to a slow start in the second.
With inputs from agencies