Top seed Novak Djokovic is only two wins away from being the first man to achieve a calendar-year singles Grand Slam in 52 years on Wednesday. He beat sixth seed Italian Matteo Berrettini in the quarter-finals (5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3), stretching his winning streak to 26 matches.
“I think it was a great performance overall,” Djokovic told NDTV, calling his last three sets the “best three sets I’ve played in the tournament.” He will face Olympic champion Alexander Zverev, who beat him in the semi-finals of the Tokyo Games, on Friday.
“He’s in tremendous form. He has been winning a lot,” Djokovic said. “He’s one of the best players in the world right now, and I’m pumped. The bigger the challenge, the more glory in overcoming it.”
— ATP Tour (@atptour) September 9, 2021
Winning this title would mean Djokovic becomes the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors in the same year. But Djokovic stands to win even more. If he emerges as the victor in this tournament, it will put 21 grand slams to his name, making him the player with the highest grand slam titles in the men’s game. He would also pass Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, with whom he currently shares the “most majors” spot and historically shared a rivalry.
However, Djokovic isn’t counting his chickens before they hatch. “Only focusing on the next match. Don’t ask me about history,” Djokovic said. “I’m thinking only about the next match. Step by step.”
Just like Djokovic, Zverev is enjoying a winning streak (16 matches) as well. He beat South African Lloyd Harris in straight sets (7-6, 5-3, 6-4).
Can anyone stop @AlexZverev?
The 2020 finalist raced past Lloyd Harris, 7-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Relive the match 👇
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 8, 2021
“He was serving incredible, in the first set especially,” Zverev told NDTV. “Somehow was able to win that tiebreaker and that loosened me up. I’m really happy to get through in three.”
“The level wasn’t quite where it needed to be,” Harris told NDTV. “A little disappointing in that regard. Nonetheless, still, a lot of positives to take from the week.”
Djokovic currently leads in head-to-head matches played with Zverev at six wins to the German’s three. Whoever wins the semi-final match will likely face second seed Russia’s Daniil Medvedev (if he wins his match against Aliassime). Medvedev has a losing head-to-head with both Djokovic (three wins to five) and Zverev (four wins to five).
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 9, 2021
This year’s US Open finds another battle between generations. Either Novak Djokovic will continue to assert his dominance further cementing his legacy as one of the greatest to hold a racket, or someone from the new generation will take the crown. Coincidentally, the last time a player from the new generation won a grand slam was also at this tournament: Dominic Thiem at the US Open 2020. History stands to repeat itself in various ways.