US Open: Djokovic on brink of history after outlasting Zverev in semis

By Sports Desk September 10, 2021

Novak Djokovic is one win away from becoming the first man to complete a Grand Slam in 52 years. 

The world number one fought back to defeat Alexander Zverev 4-6 6-2 6-4 4-6 6-2 Friday in the US Open semi-finals to put himself on the brink of history. 

Djokovic will face second seed Daniil Medvedev in Sunday's final as he attempts to win a record 21st grand slam title and become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors in a calendar year. 

Laver was in attendance at Arthur Ashe Stadium to watch the top seed exert his will as he has done in so many five-setters over the years, breaking down the younger player over the course of the match to emerge with yet another triumph. 

Zverev had ended Djokovic's chances of a Golden Slam with a semi-final win at the Tokyo Olympics, rallying for a three-set win after dropping the opening set, but the script was different Friday. 

It started with Djokovic losing the opening set for the fourth successive match in New York. In the previous three rounds, he did not drop more than three games in any subsequent set, but Zverev made him work harder this time. 

With the first set even at 4-4, Djokovic fell behind 15-40 and double faulted on break point to give Zverev the opening he needed. Though his next service game was a bit shaky, Zverev managed to take the set when Djokovic mis-hit a forehand.

The German's momentum did not last, though, as he returned the favour by double faulting on break point in his first service game of the second set and watched Djokovic level the match with relative ease. 

Zverev had a chance to take control early in the third, earning two break points at 2-2, but he failed to convert and did not get another chance. When Djokovic had a similar opportunity up 5-4, though, he closed it out.

Down 0-40 in that game, Zverev saved two break points – the latter via an epic 53-shot rally that was the longest at this year's US Open – but Djokovic slammed home an overhead winner on the next point to take the set. 

Zverev shook off that disappointment and put the pressure back on Djokovic by hammering a forehand winner down the line to break the top seed and take a 2-1 lead in the fourth.

The German did not falter the rest of the set, eventually serving it out to force a decider and push Djokovic to a fifth set for the first time since the French Open final against Stefanos Tsitsipas. 

Djokovic jumped to an early lead in the fifth, forcing Zverev to the net on break point in the second game with a beautiful drop shot before finishing the younger player off with a cross-court winner. 

Djokovic reeled off four consecutive points to break Zverev in his next service game, then held at love to put the fourth seed on the brink at 5-0. 

Zverev, a winner in seven of his previous eight five-setters, did not surrender, breaking Djokovic thanks to a double fault on game point to pull within 5-2. 

But Djokovic ended it there, breaking back to close out the match in the next game as Zverev sent a forehand into the net from the baseline.

DATA SLAM

With the victory, Djokovic improved to 34-2 in night matches at Arthur Ashe Stadium and 36-10 in five-set matches in his career, winning his last seven in a row. 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 41/49
Zverev – 49/50

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 12/2
Zverev – 16/8

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 5/8
Zverev – 3/12

Related items

  • Norrie continues stunning season after reaching Indian Wells decider against Basilashvili Norrie continues stunning season after reaching Indian Wells decider against Basilashvili

    ameron Norrie continued his sensational year by reaching his sixth and most significant final for the season with a straight-sets win over Grigor Dimitrov in the Indian Wells Masters semi-finals on Saturday.

    The British 21st seed claimed his 46th win for the season, earning his sixth final appearance for the season, which is the equal most of any male player on tour, alongside Novak Djokovic.

    Norrie will play Georgian 29th seed Nicoloz Basilashvili who defeated local Taylor Fritz in straight sets to reach a Masters 1000 final for the first time.

     

    NORRIE TOPPLES TIRING DIMITROV

    Norrie will also be making his maiden Masters 1000 final appearance after a 6-2 6-4 victory over 23rd seed Dimitrov in one hour and 26 minutes.

    The 26-year-old Briton got ahead in both sets with an early break to set up the victory. Norrie moves ahead of Daniil Medvedev, Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas and level with Djokovic for most final appearances this season.

    "I've been playing a lot of big matches this year, which has helped," Norrie said during his on-court interview. "I feel like I am used to the big moments and the big matches.

    "I'm feeling more and more comfortable and I feel like I am playing on my terms in key moments."

    Dimitrov, who beat top seed Daniil Medvedev in an epic fourth round comeback, appeared spent physically with 31 unforced errors compared to Norrie's 19, with the Briton only hitting 12 winners for the match.

    The triumph boosts Norrie's hopes of qualifying for the ATP Finals, with victory in the decider to see him move past Jannik Sinner into 10th position and within 125 points of the last position, currently occupied by Hubert Hurkacz.

     

    BASILASHVILI MAKES MAIDEN MASTERS 1000 FINAL

    Basilashvili overcame late nerves to secure his first-ever Masters 1000 final berth with victory over 31st seed Fritz in 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 in one hour and 41 minutes.

    The 29-year-old, who had never won a main draw match at Indian Wells prior to this year's event, had 26-21 winners for the match, stepping up in the key moments to claim his breakthrough spot in a decider.

    "It means a lot, especially at Indian Wells," Basilashvili said during his on-court interview. "People call this the fifth grand slam so it means a lot."

    The Georgian was uncompromising and committed throughout, staving off three Fritz set points in the first set, before getting the lead in a tiebreak. Basilashvili converted his first break point for the match to lead 4-2 in the second set, although he spurned three match points with missed forehands, before sealing victory.

    "For me, I'm first time experiencing semi-finals, finals and quarter-finals so I'm really tight," Basilashvili said. "It's natural but I try to get rid of it as much as I can. If I focus on my game and play, I can play good tennis."

  • Zverev rues missed opportunity as he follows Tsitsipas out at Indian Wells Zverev rues missed opportunity as he follows Tsitsipas out at Indian Wells

    Alexander Zverev rued a missed opportunity to win the Indian Wells Masters as he crashed out in the quarter-finals at the hands of home favourite Taylor Fritz.

    American Fritz saved two match points to pull off an upset 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) win over Olympic gold medallist Zverev.

    Third seed Zverev was aware he had become hot favourite to triumph in California after Stefanos Tsitsipas crashed out to Nikoloz Basilashvili earlier on Friday, with US Open champion Daniil Medvedev already eliminated.

    And the German was frustrated with his performance against Fritz, which left him unable to add to the Masters 1000 titles he has already won in Madrid and Cincinnati this year.

    "It was just not really my day, to be honest," said Zverev, who had beaten Jenson Brooksby, Andy Murray and Gael Monfils to reach the last eight.

    "I was close to winning, but the level of tennis was just not there for me.

    "Mentally this is not easy for me. My next tournament is Vienna, so hoping I can deal with it well there, but right now I just want to go home.

    "It was a very long season and I have played well but this one hurts because I knew that, after Stefanos lost this morning, I was kind of the favourite to win this tournament, but my tennis wasn't there yet."

    Zverev had won 20 of his previous 21 matches on hard courts and led 5-2 in the deciding set.

    But Fritz was not to be denied, firing 36 winners to secure the second top-five win of his career, with this triumph adding to impressive victories over Italian duo Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner this week.

    Fritz said: "This is the farthest I've ever been in a big tournament. 

    "It is easily the best win of my life, against a really tough opponent on arguably the biggest match I could possibly play, so it's great.

    "The biggest thing was match point down, I wanted to make him serve it out, so I just fought as hard as I could to hold that game.

    "Then I got fortunate in his service game and from there I felt in control and felt really good under the pressure. I kept fighting. The crowd pushing me on meant so much.

    "It is amazing. Especially the way that match ended with such high emotions with the crowd. The crowd was amazing and it is a dream come true."

  • Azarenka on brink of Indian Wells history after reaching final as Badosa awaits Azarenka on brink of Indian Wells history after reaching final as Badosa awaits

    Victoria Azarenka is one win away from becoming the first three-time winner of the WTA Indian Wells Open after rallying past Jelena Ostapenko in the semi-finals.

    After dropping the opening set, two-time Indian Wells champion Azarenka stormed back to outlast the 2017 French Open winner on Friday.

    Standing in the way of Azarenka and history is Paula Badosa, who eased past Ons Jabeur in the second semi-final in the Californian desert.

     

    AZARENKA RETURNS TO INDIAN WELLS FINAL

    Winner of the Indian Wells Open in 2012 and 2016, Azarenka is back in the decider thanks to a stirring 3-6 6-3 7-5 comeback against fellow seed Ostapenko.

    Former world number one Azarenka was down a set and a break before the 27th seed fought back to prevail over Ostapenko in two hours, 20 minutes.

    By seeing off 24th seed Ostapenko, two-time grand slam champion Azarenka celebrated her 33rd match win at Indian Wells – only two women have won more matches at the tournament, Lindsay Davenport (47) and Maria Sharapova (38).

    "I think my season has been tricky," Azarenka said. "There were parts where I physically couldn't necessarily bring that extra level, extra fight, which was very frustrating. Then there were parts where I felt that I was looking for something to add, and I didn't necessarily know what it was. It was a lot of searching in the season, a lot of kind of stepping into unknown.

    "I feel like right now I'm a bit more settled with a bit more structure, a little bit more discipline, which makes it not necessarily easier but a bit clearer what I need to do. So it doesn't take extra energy on that, so I can kind of focus my energy more on the fighting for every ball."

     

    BADOSA UPSTAGES JABEUR

    Spaniard Badosa added another scalp to her name by trumping 12th seed Jabeur 6-3 6-3.

    Looking to become the first Spanish woman to win the Indian Wells Open, 21st seed Badosa made light work of Jabeur.

    Badosa's success means she has beaten four top-20 opponents en route to the final, having stunned Angelique Kerber in the quarter-finals.

    Having won her first title earlier this year in Belgrade, Badosa will feature in her second career WTA decider.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.