In Tokyo, it had been Alexander Zverev who denied Novak Djokovic his Olympic dream in a competition partially defined by controversy over the searing heat. In stifling temperatures inside Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday, the world number one saw his calendar Grand Slam hopes ended by a man often known for losing his cool.

Daniil Medvedev is among the most mercurial players on the ATP Tour. To watch Medvedev outwit his opponents when he is focused is one of the great joys of the modern game. When things go against him, though, his temper and his performance can unravel in a hurry.

To Djokovic's misfortune, in one of the biggest matches of his remarkable career, he came up against an inspired Medvedev enjoying obvious clarity of thought in a 6-4 6-4 6-4 win in the US Open final that means tennis' 'big three' remain locked on 20 grand slam titles apiece.

Medvedev is no stranger to heroics at tennis' largest stadium. Two years ago he enjoyed a rollercoaster journey in New York. Seeing red after being given a code violation for snatching a towel from a ballboy, Medvedev was mercilessly booed in a third-round match with Feliciano Lopez and openly goaded the fans thereafter in his on-court interview.

The booing continued in the subsequent round, but Medvedev's story that year was one of redemption, which ended with him receiving great credit for a remarkable near-comeback in a five-set epic final with Rafael Nadal.

Fast forward to a clash with another of the players firmly in the conversation for the best of all time and Medvedev sustained the levels he produced for two and a half sets against Nadal for three glorious sets as he ruthlessly took possession of a day that was supposed to belong to Djokovic.

Prior to the final, Djokovic had dropped the opening set in four of his previous matches at Flushing Meadows, winning three times in four sets and once in five.

As such, there was little reason not to expect a Djokovic comeback when Medvedev forged ahead in the showpiece.

However, in Medvedev, Djokovic found a foe completely unwilling to indulge his hopes of another recovery effort.

Coach Gilles Cervara labelled Medvedev a "genius" before the 2019 final and, when he plays as he did in clinching his first major title, it is tough to argue with that assessment.

As the elasticity of his movement enabled Medvedev to defend with an ease that belied the pressure of the occasion, Djokovic was simply unable to find a way through in the second set, which was decided with the artistry of the Russian's drop shot.

Djokovic could only hit into the tramlines having scurried in a desperate effort to meet such a shot, and that sense of desperation was evident when uncharacteristically poor play at the net from the Serbian gave Medvedev command in the third.

A pair of double faults played a role in Medvedev initially failing to serve out the match, the ice-cool focus escaping him for a brief moment, but there was to be no repeat when his second opportunity came as he finally clinched a maiden major on his third wedding anniversary.

So history denied. Not because of the heat, but because of a man keeping his cool in the face of the greatest challenge in the men's game and harnessing the genius that is now recognised by many more than just his coach. Extremely gracious in defeat, a potentially momentous day for Djokovic is now one he will want to forget. Instead, Medvedev and his wife have an anniversary to remember.

Novak Djokovic set aside the deep disappointment of missing out on the calendar Grand Slam by backing new US Open champion Daniil Medvedev to be a multiple major winner.

World number one and 20-time slam champion Djokovic had strung together a stunning run of wins at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, and he was a red-hot favourite to complete the set in New York.

A clean sweep of all four slams in a year had not been achieved since Rod Laver won the lot in 1969, and the great Australian was in the crowd as history appeared to beckon on Sunday.

Medvedev had other ideas and swept to a 6-4 6-4 6-4 win in two hours, 16 minutes, collecting his first title at this level but perhaps the first of many.

The world number two was tipped by a number of experts, including former world number one Jim Courier, to take the Flushing Meadows glory, and he came good as a flagging Djokovic paid the price for taking a circuitous route to the final.

Top seed Djokovic dropped the opening set of each of his matches from the third round onwards, spending more than five hours more on court than Medvedev on the way through the draw.

Speaking at the trophy presentation, Djokovic said: "I'd like to start off by saying congratulations to Daniil. Amazing. Amazing match, amazing tournament. If there is anyone that deserves a grand slam title now, it's you, so well done.

"You're one of the greatest guys on the tour. We get along very well. I wish you many more grand slams, many more majors to follow. I'm sure you will be on this stage in the future again."

Djokovic had appeared to well up before the final game of the match, on what was an emotional day for the Serb superstar.

He had demolished a racket in the second set as his rage grew, but come the end of the match he was looking to be sanguine.

Rather than airing his certain sense of frustration at falling just short of such a rare feat as a calendar Grand Slam, Djokovic looked for the positives.

And there was one that stood out, with the man who has often felt unloved by tennis crowds expressing his joy at the New York spectators showing him plenty of affection.

They had turned out in the hope of witnessing a famous moment in sporting history, which may have partly explained their raucous rallying behind the 34-year-old.

"I was thinking in both scenarios, kind of visualising myself standing here in front of you guys and what would I say," Djokovic told the crowd.

"I would like to say tonight that even though I have not won the match my heart is filled with joy and I am the happiest man alive, because you guys helped me feel very special on the court.

"You guys touch my soul. I've never felt like this in New York, I've never felt like this. Thank you so much for your support, everything you have done tonight for me. I love you and I'll see you soon."

Novak Djokovic fell agonisingly short of a clean sweep of this year's majors as Daniil Medvedev scored a sensational victory in the US Open final.

After scooping the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles, Djokovic arrived in New York in pursuit of the full set, but a 6-4 6-4 6-4 defeat meant the calendar Grand Slam dream died.

Rod Laver, the last man to achieve that feat in singles, back in 1969, was in the crowd to witness what most anticipated would be a momentous moment in tennis history. Instead, it was momentous for Medvedev, the Russian finally a champion at the highest level.

It means Djokovic remains tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 slam titles, the 34-year-old being served notice here that a new generation is rising, headed by world number two Medvedev.

 It was a sizzling afternoon in New York, the temperature taking a leap a day on from Emma Raducanu's triumph in the women's final, and Djokovic was feeling the heat from the early moments.

Medvedev broke in the first game against a nervy and erratic opponent. Djokovic had said before stepping on court that he hoped to bring the "best version of myself" and promised he was "ready for the battle", but he was running on close to empty at times here.

Djokovic had dropped the opening set in the previous four rounds in this US Open run, winning three times in four sets and once in five during that sequence. He came into this match having spent five hours and 35 minutes longer on court than Medvedev, an unusually scenic route through the rounds for the top seed. And those extra miles in his legs showed, Medvedev swiftly a set ahead, sealing the opener with an ace.

Djokovic had won 10 of 10 matches in slams this year after losing the opening set. No man has ever won a slam after losing five first sets in the same tournament, the ATP said. That still holds true.

The Serbian had 0-40 on the Medvedev serve in the second game of the second set, but five points in a row from the man from Moscow felt like a bodyblow, and in the fourth game Djokovic's frustration spilled over, brutally smashing his racket three times against the ground.

Djokovic was landing only 50 per of first serves in court, and when he hit a feeble backhand into the net, Medvedev had two break points. He took the second of those when Djokovic looped a volley long, then held to love to lead 4-2.

On his third set point, Medvedev gave Djokovic a chance to make a passing shot, but the 34-year-old went wide. At two sets up, Medvedev may have had thoughts of Stefanos Tsitsipas losing from such a lead against Djokovic in the Roland Garros final, but this time Djokovic was fried.

He raced out to a double break and a 4-0 lead in the third set, yet double-faulted twice in succession when his first championship point arrived and gave back one of those breaks. Djokovic closed to 5-4, the New York crowd roared and the man who rarely feels loved by tennis crowds began to well up. Medvedev came out to serve again and again served a double on a championship point, but he had another in store and Djokovic netted on the backhand.

For the first time since 1990, when Pete Sampras and Gabriela Sabatini reigned over the rest, the US Open has a pair of first-time grand slam winners as its singles champion, with rookie Raducanu joined by the finished article in Medvedev.

In an extraordinary year for Djokovic, this was a lousy day.

Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez feels her run to the US Open final is still "magical" despite going down to British qualifier Emma Raducanu on Saturday.

World number 73 Fernandez defeated top five trio Naomi Osaka, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka along with three-time major winner Angelique Kerber on her way to Saturday's final.

But 18-year-old Raducanu proved too good in the decider, triumphing 6-4 6-3 over Fernandez, who turned 19 last Monday.

Fernandez had labeled her run to the final as "magical" after her three-set semi-final win over Sabalenka and she remained upbeat despite failing to claim victory against Raducanu.

"It's definitely magical," Fernandez told her post-match news conference.

"I'm very happy with myself, with the way I competed, and the play I played, the way I acted on court the past two weeks. I've improved a lot not only tennis-wise but emotionally and mentally."

Fernandez admitted the defeat "stings" but was bullish about bouncing back, believing she can continue to perform to such standards at other majors.

The Canadian had only won one WTA Tour title previously, triumphing at the Monterrey Open in March, while she had never before been further than a grand slam third round.

"I don't think it will change my life that much," Fernandez said. "I'm very lucky to have a great support team and a great family to keep me grounded.

"With these wins and this loss today, it definitely stings, but it will just make me want to work harder and stronger, just come back to every tournament with the same hunger that I came into this tournament."

During Fernandez's giant-slaying run she did not go into any match as favourite and insisted that did not play a part when she was considered to have an edge in the final against the lower-ranked Raducanu.

"It did never cross my mind," Fernandez said about being favourite in the final.

"I was just very excited to play a final. I unfortunately did not do well, and Emma did great. So that's what happened."

The Queen has led the messages of congratulations for British teenager Emma Raducanu following her "remarkable" history-making US Open triumph on Saturday.

The 18-year-old became the first-ever female or male qualifier to win a major tournament, triumphing 6-4 6-3 over fellow debutant finalist Leylah Fernandez at Flushing Meadows.

Raducanu did not drop a set throughout the tournament on her way to victory in only her second career grand slam after reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon earlier this year.

The achievement by Raducanu, who is the youngest women's grand slam finalist since a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova won at Wimbledon in 2004, was labeled as "remarkable" by the Queen.

"I send my congratulations to you on your success in winning the United States Open Tennis Championships," the Queen's message to Raducanu said. 

"It is a remarkable achievement at such a young age, and is testament to your hard work and dedication. 

"I have no doubt your outstanding performance, and that of your opponent Leylah Fernandez, will inspire the next generation of tennis players.  I send my warmest good wishes to you and your many supporters."

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also offered their congratulations along with United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson who praised the British sensation on social media.

"You showed extraordinary skill, poise and guts and we are all hugely proud of you," Mr Johnson wrote.

There were further tributes on social media coming from musicians Liam Gallagher and the Spice Girls, as well as football identities Marcus Rashford and Gary Lineker.

Emma Raducanu believes her shock US Open triumph highlights just how strong women's tennis is after winning Saturday's final against Leylah Fernandez ​in straight sets to become the first qualifier in history to win a grand slam.

The 18-year-old, ranked 150 by the WTA before beginning her tournament in New York some three weeks ago, prevailed 6-4 6-3 against fellow debutant finalist Fernandez.

Victory in Saturday's final caps a remarkable and life-changing couple of months for Raducanu, who also reached the last 16 of Wimbledon before pulling out of the competition due to medical reasons.

Raducanu is the youngest women's grand slam finalist since a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova took the title at Wimbledon in 2004 and she feels the women's game is in strong hands.

"First of all, I really want to congratulate Leylah and her team – she played some incredible tennis and has beaten some of the top players in the world," Raducanu said in her on-court interview as she was handed the trophy by the legendary Billie Jean King.

"The level was extremely high and I hope we play each other in many more tournaments and hopefully finals.

"It shows the future of women's tennis and depth of the game is so great, every player in the draw has a shot at winning any tournament. 

"I hope the next generation can follow in the steps of some of the legends, for example Billie Jean right here."

 

Raducanu did not drop a set in her remarkable run at Flushing Meadows as she became the first British female to win a major tournament since Virginia Wade on home soil at Wimbledon 44 years ago.

Wade was in attendance for the final at Arthur Ashe Stadium – as was Tim Henman – and Raducanu will now be out to match or indeed better the success of the three-time grand slam winner.

"It means so much to have Virginia here and also Tim , British icons and for me to follow in their footsteps... it gave me the belief I could do it."

Raducanu proved too strong for world number 73 Fernandez with a perfect mix of power and precision that saw her hit 22 winners to her opponent's 18.

Only twice did Fernandez break Raducanu and the British teenager won 67 per cent of points behind her first serve.

"Leylah is always going to play great tennis and fight, that is why she is in the final, I knew I would have to dig deep," Raducanu said.

"As for this three weeks in New York, I would say having such a supportive team, the LTA my agent, and everyone back home watching on TV, thank you so much for your support over the years.

"Thank you for making me feel so at home from my first qualifying match, you have spurred me on in some difficult moments and I hope me and Leylah put on a good match today."

Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez had the biggest moments of their careers – their lives, surely – coming up in a matter of moments, but both of the teenage sensations seemed calm and collected as they fulfilled some final media duties prior to heading out onto court at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"I can't wait to get stuck in," said Raducanu, the first qualifier in history to reach a grand slam final. "I think we're just going to go out there and have fun," said Fernandez, vanquisher of US Open champions past over the course of the last two weeks.

Those questions were preceded by a commemoration of an event that occurred in New York 20 years ago to the day, the players waiting in the tunnel as tributes were paid to the lives lost on September 11, 2001, when the towers fell and the world changed.

Neither Fernandez nor Raducanu were born. Indeed, the latter does not turn 19 until November, and her opponent celebrated her 19th on Monday, a day before beating Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals.

Whether down to youthful exuberance, or the fearlessness that inexperience can bring, both players – who last met in the second round of the juniors at Wimbledon in 2018 – lived up to their promises in the pre-match interviews, to the benefit of an audience that can only have been glued to whatever screen they watched on, not to mention the 23,000-strong crowd in attendance at Flushing Meadows.

It was a final that could have gone either way, yet ultimately in the moments it really mattered most, it was Raducanu who came out on top, a 6-4 6-3 victory sealing one of the most unlikely successes of all time.

The tone was set immediately in the first women's slam final between two unseeded players. Raducanu applying pressure and breaking serve to edge ahead.

But Fernandez has had to battle back against the odds throughout her incredible run, beating defending champion Naomi Osaka, former world number one Angelique Kerber and current number two Aryna Sabalenka. The scores were level two games later.

Raducanu had not dropped a set throughout her run, but at 30-0 down in the fifth game, it appeared to be swinging in Fernandez's favour. Four straight points from the Briton ensured that was not the case.

Special tennis was on show. Quality, control and poise worthy of players way beyond their years. After an hour, something had to give, and it was Raducanu who, at the fourth time of asking, broke serve to seal the set.

What did Fernandez have left? Was this the beginning of the end for the youngest player to beat more than one top-five opponent at the same slam since Serena Williams saw off Monica Seles, Lindsay Devenport and Martina Hingis in 1999?

Yet Raducanu found herself 2-1 and a break down three games into set two.

Fernandez could not capitalise and Raducanu returned from an 82 mile-an-hour serve to get back on the front foot. An exquisite forehand winner saw her break for 4-2.

Raducanu's Wimbledon came to an end in tears at the fourth-round stage. When she moved to within a game of grand slam immortality, there was hardly a flicker of emotion.

Fernandez said she was out to have fun, though, and a smile was back on her face as two championship points went begging for Raducanu, who then skidded across the baseline, cutting open her knee in the process.

A medical time out was required and Fernandez's joy turned to frustration. It might have been crucial, Raducanu saving two break points before an outstanding ace secured her place in history.

Ten matches, no sets dropped – Williams was the last player, in 2014, to win the US Open without dropping a set. Raducanu is also now the first woman to win a title so early in her slam career, in just her second major appearance. 

Nine years and one day since Andy Murray won his first major on the same court, a new British hero emerged.

Virginia Wade, the last British woman to reach the Flushing Meadows final in the Open Era and the 1968 champion, watched on as the iconic Billie Jean King handed the trophy over to a superstar in the making.

Big names were absent from Flushing Meadows this year, but Raducanu and Fernandez served up a final, and a result, for the ages.

Emma Raducanu became the first qualifier in tennis history to win a grand slam final after beating Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-3 in the US Open final on Saturday.

Eighteen-year-old Raducanu, who was ranked 150 by the WTA before the tournament and had only played in one other major (Wimbledon earlier this year), enjoyed a sensational run at Flushing Meadows and proved too strong for Fernandez, 19, who was also contesting her first grand slam final.

Briton Raducanu – the youngest women's grand slam finalist since a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova took the title at Wimbledon in 2004 – showed no signs of nerves in the opening set, taking a decisive advantage.

A roller-coaster second set could have gone either way, but from a break down, Raducanu hit back to serve out the victory in an epic final between two of tennis' rising stars.

Neither player looked fazed by the magnitude of the occasion during the first set, with a series of high-quality rallies and superb winners lighting up Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Raducanu started strongly and went 2-0 up after a pulsating game on Fernandez’s serve, which lasted more than 10 minutes and had seen the Canadian save five break points before eventually succumbing.

Fernandez responded well, though, breaking back immediately before restoring parity on her own serve.

The first set went with serve until Fernandez was serving to stay in it at 5-4 down.

Raducanu squandered three set points before ultimately taking her fourth with a thumping forehand down the line, securing the lead after exactly one hour.

The British player had three break points in the second game of the second set, but Fernandez rallied to hold.

That recovery galvanised Fernandez, who broke Raducanu in the next game at the third time of asking, although her opponent broke back immediately with two wonderful backhands to see out the game.

Raducanu held her serve before opening up a 4-2 lead as Fernandez wilted under a string of excellent shots.

After a dramatic medical time out at 30-40 down on her own serve for a cut below her left knee, which left Fernandez visibly frustrated, Raducanu came back out renewed and served an ace to seal arguably the most unlikely grand slam win of all time.

British tennis was on a super Saturday high at the US Open as Emma Raducanu took centre stage – after Joe Salisbury, Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett celebrated title success.

Salisbury completed a remarkable doubles double, adding the mixed title to the men's crown he secured on Friday, and Reid and Hewett teamed up to clinch a calendar Grand Slam in wheelchair men's doubles.

After Salisbury and American partner Rajeev Ram won the men's doubles title by beating Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, Salisbury returned on Saturday to land another title, the fourth major of his career.

Salisbury teamed up with another American partner, Desirae Krawczyk, to see off Mexican Giuliana Olmos and Salvadorean Marcelo Arevalo 7-5 6-2 on Arthur Ashe Stadium, in the match directly before the women's final.

Raducanu, the world number 150, was going for glory in the women's singles final against another unlikely finalist in Canada's Leylah Fernandez.

If she was seeking inspiration from fellow Britons, it was in plentiful supply, with wheelchair maestros Reid and Hewett scoring a 6-2 6-1 doubles victory over Japan's Shingo Kunieda and Argentina's Gustavo Fernandez.

That meant they sealed a clean sweep of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open in 2021, becoming the first men's wheelchair duo in history to perform that feat.

France's Stephane Houdet previously won a calendar Grand Slam in the event, but he played with two different partners during the 2014 campaign, landing three titles with Kunieda and one with Joachim Gerard.

Rafael Nadal posed with crutches and an apparently bandaged foot as the injured former US Open champion revealed on Saturday he has undergone treatment in Barcelona.

The 20-time grand slam winner announced in August that his season was over, as he battles a problem that has troubled him since 2005 and has recently hindered his tournament preparation.

Nadal felt he was unable to do himself justice, and since a French Open semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic in June, he has played just two more matches, reaching the last 16 at the Citi Open in Washington.

He wrote on Instagram on Saturday: "Hello everyone, I have not communicated with you through the networks for some time.

"I can tell you that I was in Barcelona with my team and the medical team, to receive a treatment on my foot that will mean I take a few days of rest and a few weeks off court.

"I am back home and in the process of recovery. Thank you all for your support!"

The social media post shows Mallorca native Nadal giving a thumbs-up gesture to the camera, but it also gives an indication of the extent of his problem.

He stands with only his right foot on the ground, the left raised off the floor in what looks like an effort to protect it, as he props himself up with a pair of crutches in his left hand.

Nadal has won the US Open four times, most recently in 2019, but has been one of a number of star-name absentees from this year's tournament in New York.

The 35-year-old has 13 French Open wins among his haul of majors, and stands level on 20 grand slams with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic has an opportunity to go top of the all-time men's list on Sunday when he faces Daniil Medvedev in the men's final at Flushing Meadows.

As Nadal suffers, so does his great rival Federer. A Nadal return to action in 2022 appears a more likely prospect than another Federer comeback.

Federer has cast some doubt on whether he will play again, as the 40-year-old battles knee trouble. The Swiss said last month he would be "on crutches for many weeks" after surgery, declaring he wanted to give himself "a glimmer of hope" of featuring again on tour.

Novak Djokovic is well aware of the history he is poised to make in Sunday's US Open final, and he is not shying away from it. 

After his 4-6 6-2 6-4 4-6 6-2 defeat of Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals Friday, a win in the final against Daniil Medvedev would make Djokovic the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors in the same year.

It would also give him a record 21st grand slam title, breaking the mark he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. 

Two astonishing achievements, neither of which is complete just yet, as Djokovic reminded observers by invoking a famous Kobe Bryant line. 

"Job is not done," Djokovic said. "Excitement is there. Motivation is there, without a doubt. Probably more than ever. But I have one more to go."

Djokovic did cross one statistical milestone off the list with Friday's win. He has now reached his 31st grand slam final, equalling Roger Federer's record. 

Since falling to Kei Nishikori in the last four at the 2014 US Open, Djokovic is 17-1 in grand slam semis. 

Zverev lauded Djokovic for his mental toughness as the world number one improved to 36-10 in five-set matches, but the top seed said he still has to fight himself to stay in control in high-pressure situations. 

"It's kind of a hurricane, a tornado, of emotions that you're going through in a sequence of one set or even one point," Djokovic said. "You are by yourself on the court, so there is no escape.

"You've got to find a way. And I think, over the years, I have managed to develop a formula that works for me. ...

"Tennis is a very beautiful sport but a very demanding sport and you've got to have mind and body balanced at all times if you want to compete at the highest level for the biggest trophies."

Few can match him on that stage and he will attempt to reach even greater heights with a win Sunday. 

His opponent, the second-seeded Medvedev, has dropped only one set on the way to the final. 

Djokovic beat him in straight sets in January to win the Australian Open and deny the 25-year-old Russian his first grand slam title. 

History will be on the line Sunday at Arthur Ashe Stadium, and Djokovic is embracing it. 

"There's only one match left. ... Let's do it,'' he said. "I'm going to put my heart and my soul and my body and my head into that one. I'm going to treat the next match like it is the last match of my career.''

To hear Alexander Zverev tell it, he would have needed to be perfect to beat Novak Djokovic in the US Open semi-finals. 

In the end, a wobbly beginning to the fifth set proved the German's undoing in a 4-6 6-2 6-4 4-6 6-2 defeat Friday simply because Djokovic was at his best when it mattered most. 

Combine that enduring quality with the Serbian's incredible statistical record, said Zverev, and you have the greatest player of all time.

Djokovic will have a chance to solidify that case Sunday when he faces Daniil Medvedev for the title. 

A victory would make the 34-year-old the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors in the same year and give him a record 21st grand slam title, breaking the mark he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. 

"I think it's great for the sport," Zverev said after his loss. "Nobody thought anybody will do it again, what Rod Laver did. To see ]Djokovic] have the chance on Sunday, I do believe that he will do it is great. He's breaking every single record that there is.

"If you look at the stats, if you look the pure game of tennis action, he's the greatest of all time.

"Nobody is there with him, because most weeks world number one, most Masters 1000s titles, most likely going to be the most grand slams at the end of the day.

"And he has the chance of winning all four in the same year. How do you compete with that?"

Zverev certainly tried Friday, becoming the first player to push Djokovic to a fifth set since Stefanos Tsitsipas in the French Open final. 

"I fought back," he said. "I left it all out there. ... I mean, the match could have gone both ways, but it went his way. Very often it does."

On this night, Zverev said, it was largely Djokovic's serve on big points that boosted the top seed. 

Whatever shots happened to be working better than others for Djokovic, though, one factor stood above the rest, as it usually does for him at grand slams. 

"I think mentally he's the best player to ever play the game," Zverev said. "Mentally, in the most important moments, I would rather play against anybody else but him."

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

The first time Daniil Medvedev made the US Open final, in 2019, he was just happy to be there, having made his deepest run at a grand slam. 

The Russian will enter Sunday's final at Flushing Meadows with a different mindset after breezing past Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4 7-5 6-2 in the semi-finals. 

After falling to Rafael Nadal in five sets two years ago in New York and losing to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final earlier this year, Medvedev is ready for a grand slam title of his own. 

"The more you lose something, the more you want to win it," Medvedev said after his semi-final win Friday. 

"I lost two finals. I want to win the third one. That's tennis, we have two players, only one going to win. You never know what's going to happen, but I'm going to try more than I did the first two times."

Medvedev has rolled through the draw, dropping only one set on the way to the final – the third to Botic van de Zandschulp in the quarter-finals. 

The world number two hopes the fact that he has not faced any marathon matches during his run to the final will help him Sunday. 

"There were some tight moments. There were some tight battles," he said. "Against Botic I won 7-5 in the fourth, which is not that much of a margin.

"It's never easy, but I'm happy that I managed to save a lot of physical abilities, physical power, and mental power.

"For sure, I mean, I don't think anybody is capable of winning a slam after playing, let's say, first three rounds five sets. I doubt this ever happened. So this is important.

"I'm really happy I managed to make it kind of fast."

Friday's match was no different, as Medvedev's only difficulty came when he fell behind 5-2 in the second set. 

But Auger-Aliassime could not finish the job, with Medvedev reeling off five successive games to end the threat before closing out the Canadian with ease in the third. 

"Many times you're going to lose a break against such an opponent as Felix, he had set points on his serve, you're going to lose a set," Medvedev said. "We can never know now how the match would go. Could be completely different story, being one set all, would be the first time for me in the tournament.

"I'm happy I managed to save this game, doing one great point and second one making him play the volley. Then it turned the match around. I think he started doubting.

"For sure it stayed in his mind, this game, so he started missing. I started putting more pressure. The match turned around. That was the key point."

Leylah Fernandez and Emma Raducanu have taken New York by storm: Saturday's US Open final is one that nobody would have predicted and nobody should miss.

The teenagers from Montreal and London are ranked at 73 and 150 by the WTA, which runs the women's tour, and have sent a clutch of household names scuttling for the Flushing Meadows exits.

In the absence of the familiar formidable presence of Serena Williams, this remarkable duo have taken the grand slam by the scruff of the neck and made it their own, thrilling crowds with their bravura.

Ahead of their clash in Saturday's final, where a life-changing title is up for grabs, Stats Perform looks at how Fernandez and Raducanu have come so far, and the feats left for them still to achieve in the Big Apple.

 

RADUCANU ON A ROLL, MAKING HER FIRST MILLION

It was no secret in British tennis circles that Raducanu was a bright talent, but she prioritised her studies ahead of going on tour and this year's Wimbledon marked her first senior grand slam main-draw appearance. Precocious potential often goes unfulfilled, but Raducanu proved she had the game as well as the wit to handle the big stage as she powered through to the fourth round at the All England Club.

She still had not climbed far enough in the rankings to earn an automatic place in the US Open, so won three qualifying rounds to earn her place. Astonishingly, she has since lost just 27 games in six main-draw matches and has not dropped a set. Serena Williams was the last player to win this title without losing a set, losing 32 games in her 2014 campaign.

The 18-year-old is the first qualifier in tennis history to reach a grand slam final, and just the second woman to reach a final after fewer than three appearances in the majors, after Pam Shriver at the 1978 US Open, her second slam. Shriver lost in her final to Chris Evert, so Raducanu can set a women's tour record for winning a title at the earliest point of a grand slam career, in those terms.

Raducanu is the second Briton to reach the women's final in New York in the Open Era, after 1968 champion Virginia Wade, who has been in the New York crowd this week.

The youngster's career prize money stood at $303,376 before this tournament, and she will become a tennis millionaire whatever the result of the final. The winner takes away $2.5million and the runner-up collects $1.25million.

Previously coached by Andy Murray's father-in-law Nigel Sears, Raducanu has been working under the guidance of former British tennis player Andrew Richardson in recent months, and this run has made her the youngest women's grand slam finalist since a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova took the title at Wimbledon in 2004.

At the US Open, she has become the youngest player to reach the title match since 1999, when a 17-year-old Serena Williams beat Martina Hingis to land the first of 23 singles slams to date.

She is the lowest-ranked player to reach a women's US Open final, besides Kim Clijsters who was a former number one but unranked after coming out of a short-lived retirement to triumph at the 2009 tournament.

FERNANDEZ FLOORS THE STARS, BUT CAN SHE RATTLE RADUCANU?

While Raducanu can count Olympic champion Belinda Bencic among her victims, it has been Fernandez who has been the real giant-killer over this fortnight.

Since making an unassuming start with wins over Ana Konjuh and Kaia Kanepi to reach round three, Fernandez's run has gone into overdrive.

Sinking defending champion Naomi Osaka marked the kick-starting of one of the great charges through a draw, as the Japanese star became the first of three top-five stars to lose to the youngster, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka being the others.

Fernandez, who turned 19 on Monday, overcame former US Open winner Angelique Kerber, too, and each of those four wins from the third round on has been epic, going to three sets each time and chock-full of tension.

She has become the youngest player to beat more than one player from the top five at the same slam since Serena Williams saw off Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport and Hingis from the quarter-finals onwards at the 1999 US Open.

What does she have left? And can Fernandez overcome a dismal record against British players? Remarkably she has a 1-6 record at all levels against British opponents, according to the WTA, and only last month she was beaten by Harriet Dart in Montreal.

This will be the first women's grand slam final between two unseeded players. There have only ever been 21 unseeded women's finalists and seven at the US Open, and if one or both of them freezes in the spotlight it would be excusable, but that prospect appears unlikely given their shared brio and sense of belonging at this level.

Fernandez has been a masterful conductor of the crowd, and has become the third Canadian woman to reach a slam final, after Eugenie Bouchard at Wimbledon in 2014 and Bianca Andreescu at the US Open two years ago. Bouchard was runner-up to Petra Kvitova, while Andreescu beat Serena Williams.

Like Raducanu, her career earnings will be transformed whatever the outcome of the trophy match, with Fernandez having banked $786,772 before this spellbinding run.

RISE OF THE TEENAGER

This will be the fourth US Open women's final in the Open Era to be contest by two teenagers, following on from Steffi Graf's win over Gabriela Sabatini in 1988, which sealed a calendar Grand Slam, the victory by Hingis over Venus Williams in 1997, and Serena's win against Hingis two years later.

Although Raducanu and Fernandez are young, they are put in the shade somewhat by the fact a 16-year-old Hingis played a 17-year-old Venus in that 1997 final.

Overall, it will be the ninth Open Era women's final between two teenagers at the majors, and whoever wins will be the youngest champion since Sharapova's Wimbledon triumph.

NATIONAL PRIDE

Raducanu has come from almost nowhere to become British number one, which will be confirmed in the new WTA rankings next week. Should she win the title, she will move to 24 on the global list, and a defeat would mean she sits at number 32, while Fernandez will be 19th if she carries off the trophy and number 27 should she fall short.

The title would make Fernandez Canada's number one, leapfrogging Andreescu.

At around 16:00 in New York on Saturday, two teenagers will step on court, likely to the wild acclaim they richly deserve. Both might have been able to walk the grounds unnoticed a fortnight ago, but Raducanu and Fernandez are globally recognised now.

At a tournament that has been missing a galaxy of stars – the Williams sisters, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to name but four, and we should probably get used to that – these flamboyant greenhorns have shown tennis might just have a future as thrilling as its immediate present.

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