The finals are separate special games that differ from the other games. And when this definition is a Grand Slam event, this different quality grows exponentially, with multiple elements at play depending on the protagonists in question.
So Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev will go to Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday to compete in the US Open championship match, each with the desire to make even more great history in the sport and the other to repeat it another hit on the table.
Although the two have met in 14 tour-level meetings, Medvedev’s straight-sets victory in the 2021 final at Flushing Meadows is remembered as more than just the moment he lifted his first major trophy. With his 6:4, 6:4, 6:4 win he also prevented Djokovic from winning a historic Grand Slam in a calendar year. The 27-year-old is not expecting a similar result this time.
“I think the only way I can use (the 2021 final) is to think that if Novak loses, he will never be the same afterwards. He is different. He just has a different mentality,” Medvedev said on Friday evening after defeating top seed Carlos Alcaraz in the semifinals. “That’s why he has 23 Grand Slams, (all of those) Masters 1000s and weeks at No. 1.”
How will you use this experience? “Knowing that he’s going to be 10 times better than he was that day, and if I want to beat him, I have to be 10 times better than he was that day. I’ll try that.”
Most US Open finals ever (they are US National Championships)
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Djokovic, for his part, is not playing in the Grand Slam in New York after the narrow defeat against Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final, but with his triumphs this year at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, which have allowed him to surpass Rafael Nadal with 23 Grand Slams . You have a new chance to make even more history. The fact that his 24th Grand Slam is just a few sets away could be enough motivation for Nole if needed.
“I understand that every time I’m in the final of a Grand Slam, it’s another opportunity to make history,” Djokovic said after comfortably defeating American Ben Shelton in the semifinals. “I’m aware of it, and of course I’m very proud, but I don’t have much time and I don’t allow myself to think about these things or think too much about history in that sense. When I’ve done it in the past, like here in the 2021 final, “Maybe I felt overwhelmed by the opportunity and opportunity and underperformed,” the Serbian said.
“I don’t want something like that to happen again and I will try to focus on what needs to be done and prepare tactically for this game.”
Aside from a thrilling five-set comeback against Laslo Djere in the third round, Djokovic has reached his tenth US Open final in these two weeks without losing another set. The 36-year-old Djokovic was particularly sharp in his return match and appeared to handle Shelton’s cross attacks with ease on Friday. However, Medvedev believes his performance could be the key to victory over the Serb as he looks to improve his 29-5 record at the US Open.
“I tend to play aggressively, fast, I serve well,” said Medvedev when asked about possible reasons for his good results in New York. “The speed of the pitch probably helps me. For example, it was great to get to the Indian Wells final because I basically can’t hit the ball there. That has nothing to do with my forehand, so I hit some good ones there. Some good games, but as soon as I got someone like Carlos with his style of play, it was over for me.
Against an opponent equally adept at long rallies, Djokovic could try to exploit Medvedev’s famous backcourt position and give him quick points with his fearsome openings.
For now, the Serb has had success against Medvedev’s unique style of play in the past, leading 9-5 against the world No. 3 in the Lexus ATP Head2Head series and winning four of the five previous meetings. Between both.
However, Medvedev can be confident about the most recent of these confrontations. The 27-year-old defeated the Serb in straight sets in the Dubai semi-finals in February, a win that added to a streak of 19 hard-court wins in February and March. But Medvedev doesn’t want to trust a vengeful Djokovic.
“It’s the same against Novak. “He’s always better than the last time he played,” said Medvedev, who has defeated Djokovic in consecutive matches only once (Monte Carlo and Cincinnati, 2019). “For example, I beat him in the US Open final (in 2021); he beat me in Bercy in a great match. Carlos beat him at Wimbledon; (Novak) beat him in Cincinnati.”
“Novak will be his best version on Sunday and I have to be the best version of myself if I want to try to beat him,” he predicted.
Meanwhile, the result of the final will also have a big impact on the race for number 1 of the year. If Medvedev triumphs, he will move within 1,000 points of the Serb and Alcaraz in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, setting up an exciting three-way battle for the final months of the season.
Djokovic, meanwhile, is looking to win three Grand Slams for the fourth time in a calendar year: The Serb, who will take Alcaraz’s No. 1 position in the Pepperstone ATP rankings on Monday, goes into play in majors this year with a record of 26-1. Anus. “I am of course thrilled with the results so far at the Grand Slams,” said Djokovic. “To play in the bottom four of the four Slams in one season is incredible. It’s the biggest success I can imagine at the start of the season. That’s what I dream about, that’s what I really wanted, that’s where I want to be in a position like that.”
“There’s one more game to go now, so this conversation will probably be even better if I win the title. But whatever happens, I’m definitely extremely proud and happy with what I’ve achieved at Grand Slams this year.