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.

Daniil Medvedev flicked away the threat of Felix Auger-Aliassime to reach his third grand slam final and second US Open title match.

The Russian was briefly in trouble in the second set, when Auger-Aliassime could not serve it out after establishing a 5-2 lead, but he was otherwise in charge as he nailed a 6-4 7-5 6-2 semi-final win.

It means the man who was beaten by Rafael Nadal in a mesmerising 2019 Flushing Meadows final will be back on Sunday to go after a first title at the majors.

World number two Medvedev looked in good shape here, and it was always going to take a major effort for 12th-seeded Canadian Auger-Aliassime to test him.

That test arrived when Auger-Aliassime led by a break in the second set but could not finish the job.

Medvedev soon levelled the set at 5-5 and Auger-Aliassime coughed up an ugly double fault to give him a look at 0-30 in the next game, before fluffing a volley to present the Russian with three game points.

A forehand into the net moved Medvedev into a 6-5 lead, serving for a two-set cushion, and a fuss-free game moved the Moscow-born 25-year-old one step away from the final.

Auger-Aliassime was looking to follow his fellow Canadian Leylah Fernandez into a US Open final this weekend, yet the failure to seize that one big chance was his undoing.

Playing ahead of the second semi-final between calendar Grand Slam-hunting Novak Djokovic and Olympic champion Alexander Zverev, it was plain sailing in the third set for Medvedev.

He struck a startling forehand winner around the net post late in the contest, demonstrating the sort of class to test the best.

Medvedev described the clash as "a strange match", saying in an on-court interview: "I think everybody thought it was going to be one set all, and you never know where the match is going to go.

"I managed to save the set points: he missed one volley and I won one good point, and the match turned around completely. I don't think I played my best today, but I'm really happy to be in the final."

He quite reasonably described his five-set thriller against Nadal two years ago as "a crazy match".

"If it's going to be a crazy match on Sunday, I just hope I can win this time," he added.


DATA SLAM

Medvedev won a terrific 81 per cent of points when landing his first serve in court, which is match-winning tennis and the sort of form he may need in the final. A three-set drubbing by Djokovic in the Australian Open final at the start of this year was an anti-climax given the match promised so much, and Medvedev won just 69 per cent on first serve in that one-sided match. All the ratios looked good for Medvedev in this match, but he will know the final is a step up. He looks destined to win multiple grand slams, but getting the first one is often the toughest.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Medvedev – 37/25
Auger-Aliassime – 17/39

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Medvedev – 12/4
Auger-Aliassime – 4/10

BREAK POINTS WON

Medvedev – 5/5
Auger-Aliassime – 1/3

History-making British qualifier Emma Raducanu admits she cannot "actually believe" she has reached the US Open final at her first attempt.

The 18-year-old world number 150 stunned 17th seed Maria Sakkari 6-1 6-4 to book her spot in the US Open final, where she will meet fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez.

Raducanu is only appearing in her second grand slam, having made a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon in June.

The Briton has become the first qualifier in the Open era, male or female, to reach the final of a major tournament, while she is the youngest grand slam finalist since Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004.

On top of that, Raducanu is the first British woman to reach a grand slam final since Virginia Wade in 1977.

"The time here in New York has gone so fast," Raducanu said during her on-court interview.

"I've just been taking care of each day and before you know it, three weeks later, I'm in the final and I can't actually believe it."

She added during her post-match news conference: "[It is] a surprise. Honestly, I just can't believe it. A shock. Crazy. All of the above.

"It means a lot to be here in this situation. I wanted, obviously, to be playing grand slams, but I didn't know how soon that would be. To be in a grand slam final at this stage of my career… I have no words."

The Canada-born teenager will become only the fourth British woman in the Open era to appear in a grand slam final after Wade, Sue Barker and Ann Haydon-Jones.

Raducanu, who was full of praise for the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd, added that she was feeling no pressure or expectation.

"Is there any expectation? I'm a qualifier, so technically there's no pressure on me," she said.

Raducanu was glowing in her praise for former British men's number one and four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Tim Henman, who has been in her box during this tournament.

"Tim is honestly such a big inspiration. He's been helping me, telling me to treat it one point at a time," Raducanu added.

"In moments like this, you can't get ahead of yourself and you really have to stay present."

The US Open decider will be the first grand slam final between teenagers since the 1999 edition at Flushing Meadows when Serena Williams (17) defeated Martina Hingis (18).

Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez said "there is no limit to her potential" after beating a third top-five player at the US Open to qualify for her maiden grand slam final in New York.

Fernandez, who celebrated her 19th birthday on Monday, shocked second seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-4 in two hours, 20 minutes on Thursday.

British teenager Emma Raducanu, 18, awaits in Saturday's final at Flushing Meadows.

The decider will be the eighth grand slam final in the Open Era between teenagers and first since the 1999 US Open when Serena Williams defeated Martina Hingis. Williams, who remains an active player, has gone on to win 23 major titles, while Hingis won five.

"Impossible is nothing. Like my dad would tell me all the time there's no limit to my potential to what I can do," Fernandez told reporters post-match.

"Nothing's impossible. There's no limit to what I can do. I'm just glad that right now everything's going well."

Fernandez only claimed her maiden WTA Tour title in March, triumphing at the Monterrey Open, while she is only playing her third grand slam, never going further than the third round until this tournament.

The Montreal-born talent labelled her US Open run as "magical" having knocked out top-five trio Sabalenka, defending champion Naomi Osaka and fifth seed Elina Svitolina, along with three-time slam winner Angelique Kerber.

"I think I've been doing some things incredible," Fernandez said. "One word that really stuck to me is 'magical' because not only is my run really good but also the way I'm playing right now.

"I'm just having fun, I'm trying to produce something for the crowd to enjoy. I'm glad that whatever I'm doing on court, the fans are loving it and I'm loving it, too. We'll say it's magical."

Fernandez also revealed when she was in grade six, a teacher had told her to stop playing tennis and focus on school.

"I'm just glad that she told me that because every day I have that phrase in my head saying that I'm going to keep going, I'm going to push through, and I'm going to prove to her everything that I've dreamed of I'm going to achieve them," she said. "I think now I can say that I've done a pretty good job in achieving my dreams."

Aryna Sabalenka said she "destroyed" herself and bemoaned her inability to take opportunities after suffering a shock loss to teenage sensation Leylah Fernandez in the semi-finals of the US Open.

Sabalenka – the second seed – was beaten 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-4 to 19-year-old unseeded Canadian Fernandez at Flushing Meadows on Thursday.

The 23-year-old Sabalenka, who has won more matches than any player on the WTA Tour this year, has never reached a major final and her wait continues after also falling in the Wimbledon semis in June.

Sabalenka squandered a set point in the opening set, before losing her final service game to love to bow out on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"This is life. If you're not using your opportunities, someone else will use it," Belarusian star Sabalenka said at her post-match news conference. "This is what happened today.

"This is what we call pressure. I had a lot of opportunities and I didn't use it. I will try to improve it. I will keep working and fighting, and I believe that one day it will come."

Sabalenka had dominated early, leading 3-0 inside 10 minutes as she barely missed a first serve, before Fernandez rallied to claim the first set.

"I wouldn't say that she did something. I would say that I destroy myself," Sabalenka said. "On the key moment, I was up 4-2 serving, and I think I made double-faults. My first-serve percentage wasn't really good."

Sabalenka identified a key lesson for her was not to "over-think" opportunities, while she was positive about her conqueror Fernandez, who she said was playing like a "top-10 player".

"Now there is no pressure on her at all. Crowd are here for her," Sabalenka said.

"But the question is when you will start to understand what's going on and where you are, how good can you deal with all these expectations and all this level, all this pressure.

"She's like a top-10 player. We'll see how good she will be in the future."

Fernandez will play 18-year-old Emma Raducanu in Saturday's final, marking the first time two teenagers have met in a grand slam decider since Martina Hingis and Serena Williams at Flushing Meadows in 1999.

Emma Raducanu made history, the British teenager becoming the first qualifier to reach a grand slam final in the Open Era after upstaging Maria Sakkari in the US Open semi-finals.

Raducanu – the lowest-ranked woman to reach a major semi-final since Wimbledon 2018 – stunned 17th seed Sakkari 6-1 6-4 in New York on Thursday.

The 18-year-old will face fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez, 19, in Saturday's decider at Flushing Meadows after powering past the Greek star, with Raducanu the first Brit to contest a championship match at the US Open since 1968 winner Virginia Wade.

It will be the eighth grand slam final between teenagers in the Open Era and first since the US Open in 1999, when Serena Williams beat Martina Hingis.

Raducanu, who impressed in making this year's Wimbledon fourth round, was the first British woman to reach the semi-final stage of the US Open singles since Jo Durie in 1983 but she was not overawed under the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights.

After fending off three break points against Sakkari in the opening game, Raducanu – who had only been broken five times entering the contest – broke for a 2-0 lead.

That set the tone for an incredible first set, which was ultimately decided on second serve as Raducanu blew away her experienced opponent.

Raducanu won 73 per cent of her second serves as she saved seven break points to thwart Sakkari, who only won four of her 13 second serves in comparison.

Sakkari – also looking to reach her first major final – tried to will herself on in the second set, however, the 26-year-old simply had no answers.

Raducanu did not face a break point in the second set as the world number 150 continued her fairytale run in the United States.

 

Data Slam: Raducanu dazzles again

Raducanu only made her grand slam main draw debut at Wimbledon this year, but she is through to her first major decider. She is the youngest slam finalist since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004. Raducanu is also only the fourth British woman in the Open Era to appear in a major final.

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Raducanu – 16/17
Sakkari – 17/33

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Raducanu – 4/2
Sakkari – 4/5

BREAK POINTS WON

Raducanu – 3/11
Sakkari – 0/7

Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez shocked US Open second seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-4 to reach her first grand slam final on Thursday.

Fernandez continued her giant-slaying run at Flushing Meadows, where the 19-year-old sensation has stunned defending champion Naomi Osaka, 2016 winner Angelique Kerber, fifth seed Elina Svitolina and Sabalenka en route to the decider.

Fellow teenage sensation Emma Raducanu or 17th seed Maria Sakkari await Fernandez in Saturday's final in New York.

The defeat is a bitter blow for Belarusian star Sabalenka, who has never reached a major final, having also lost in the final four at Wimbledon this year.

The semi-final was full of momentum swings, but 52-23 unforced errors and 8-2 double faults ultimately were costly for Sabalenka, who lost the final game on her serve to love to hand Fernandez victory.

Sabalenka had raced to an early 3-0 lead inside 10 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium, dominating with her power, missing only one of her first 13 first serves, before Fernandez settled into the contest.

Trailing 4-2, Fernandez – the youngest woman to beat multiple top-five opponents at the same slam since Serena Williams in 1999 – broke back as Sabalenka's first serve let her down, with the former converting the third of three break points.

Fernandez, who survived a break point to level it up at 4-4, eventually closed out the first set in a tie-break.

Sabalenka made a statement by breaking to love in the opening game of the second set, but Fernandez responded with a break of her own to level it at 2-2.

The second seemed destined for another tie-break, however Sabalenka broke to lead 5-4 and she never looked back as the 23-year-old forced a deciding set.

Fernandez seized control, breaking Sabalenka to move 4-2 ahead, though the latter responded immediately, despite the teenager taking her service game to deuce after trailing 0-40.

However, Fernandez held serve at 5-4 before breaking Sabalenka again to love to claim another memorable victory at the US Open.

Data Slam: Oh, Canada!

Fernandez's victory marks the second time in three years that a Canadian teenager has reached the US Open final, with then-19-year-old Bianca Andreescu beating Serena Williams in 2019. Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime remains alive in the men's semi-finals too.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Fernandez – 26/23
Sabalenka – 45/52

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Fernandez – 6/2
Sabalenka – 10/8

BREAK POINTS WON

Fernandez – 4/7
Sabalenka – 4/11

Novak Djokovic knows he faces a tough challenge in his US Open semi-final with Alexander Zverev after coming from a set down to beat Matteo Berrettini.

The Serbian triumphed 5-7 6-2 6-2 6-3 to thwart Berrettini's revenge mission, having defeated the Italian in this year's Wimbledon final.

The world number one now faces the man who denied him a shot at the Golden Slam, with Zverev dumping Djokovic out of the semi-finals at Tokyo 2020.

And the 20-time grand slam winner was full of praise for his next opponent.

"He's in tremendous form, he's been winning a lot," said Djokovic, who still has the Calendar Grand Slam in his sights. "He has comfortably moved to the semi-finals here.

"I know his game well, we played in Tokyo. He's one of the best players in the world, but the bigger the challenge the more glory in overcoming it."

Reflecting on his victory over Berrettini, Djokovic felt he found his best form after dropping the opening set.

"This was a great match, with a lot of energy on and off the court," he said. 

"Matteo is a terrific player and every time we face each other it's a close battle.

"When I lost the first set, I managed to forget about it and move on. I was locked in at the start of the second and it was the best three sets I've played so far."

Novak Djokovic moved within two wins of an historic calendar Grand Slam at the US Open after completing a merciless comeback against Matteo Berrettini 5-7 6-2 6-2 6-3 en route to the semi-finals.

Berrettini was seeking revenge for his Wimbledon final loss to Djokovic and the Italian sixth seed gave himself a good chance after winning the opening set at Flushing Meadows on Wednesday.

But Berrettini was helplessly outclassed in a devastating display from world number one Djokovic, who is bidding to become just the third man to sweep all four majors in a year and first since 1969.

The 20-time major champion, who can also break the record for most men's slam titles – currently tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, will face Alexander Zverev in the New York semis.

For the third consecutive match, Djokovic done it the hard way, rallying after dropping the opening set, just like he did against Jenson Brooksby and Kei Nishikori.

In a brutal display of big hitting, Berrettini had the crowd roaring – firing down seven aces and saving two break points in a marathon first set lasting one hour, 17 minutes.

Berrettini held serve in a physically demanding sixth game after 12 minutes and seven deuces.

Djokovic – not without his chances – did not look like his usual self, spraying a forehand wide as Berrettini seized control following four set points.

Berrettini was looking to claim his first win over Djokovic after three consecutive defeats and earn his first top-10 victory at a grand slam (0-5 heading into the contest), but the Serb star turned the match on its head into the second set.

Djokovic, though, flipped the switch as he broke for the first time to move 3-1 ahead before consolidating for a 4-1 lead, silencing the pro-Berrettini crowd in New York, where the latter was unable to stop the rot.

Berrettini looked deflated and tired in the third set – Djokovic racing out to a commanding 3-0 advantage.

Djokovic missed the chance to move 5-2 ahead but it only delayed the inevitable as he fended off a break point the very next game to eventually earn a two-sets-to-one lead.

And the 34-year-old could not be stopped as he celebrated his 80th US Open match win in emphatic fashion.

 

Data slam: Can Djokovic be stopped?

Djokovic extended his winning streak at grand slams to 26 matches, while he also remains unbeaten in US Open quarter-finals (12-0). The record-chasing star also owns a 9-0 major record in 2021 after dropping the first set.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 44/28
Berrettini – 42/43

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 12/4
Berrettini – 17/2

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 5/16
Berrettini – 1/5

Alexander Zverev is riding a wave at the US Open after his confidence-boosting win over world number one Novak Djokovic en route to claiming gold at the Olympic Games.

Zverev survived a first-set scare to power past Lloyd Harris 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 6-4 in Wednesday's US Open quarter-final.

The German fourth seed will face either Djokovic, who is bidding to become just the third man to complete a calendar Grand Slam and first since 1969, or Matteo Berrettini for a spot in the men's final at Flushing Meadows.

Zverev – last year's US Open runner-up – said he has been fuelled by his semi-final win over Djokovic at the Tokyo Games.

"It's the biggest tournament in the world, Tokyo. It's the Olympics," Zverev said during his post-match news conference.

"Winning there against the world number one, especially that I was down a set and a break, being kind of out of the match, then coming back, it was different than the other matches. The emotions were different.

"Also securing a medal for Germany was very special to me. This year it seems like nobody can beat him in a big match, nobody can beat him at the grand slams.

"I feel like I was the first player to beat him in a very big match this year. That does give you something. To any person it would give you something.

"As I said before also, I think it was very important for me to back it up in the finals, back it up in Cincinnati. Hopefully I can continue this streak."

Zverev is in the midst of a career-best 16-match winning streak and has clinched 37 of 40 sets on the hard courts after winning Olympic gold and his fifth career ATP Masters 1000 crown in Cincinnati.

The 24-year-old is bidding to become the second man in history to win Olympic gold medal and the US Open/US Championships title in the same season, after Andy Murray in 2012.

On preparing against Djokovic, Zverev added: "You have to be perfect, otherwise you will not win.

"Most of the time you can't be perfect. That's why most of the time people lose to him. Against him, you have to win the match yourself. You have to be the one that is dominating the points. You have to do it with very little unforced errors.

"He is the best player in the world. He is very difficult to beat. But he's still also got to win tonight. He's playing Matteo Berrettini who is in very good form, finals of Wimbledon. I think he's looking forward to that match, as well. It's going to be an interesting match to watch those two."

Maria Sakkari reached her second grand slam semi-final of the year after upstaging fourth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-4 6-4 at the US Open.

Sakkari made history at this year's French Open, where she became the first Greek woman to reach a grand slam singles semi-final.

The 17th seed continued her impressive 2021 with a straight-sets victory over former world number one and 2016 US Open finalist Pliskova in New York on Wednesday.

After one hour, 21 minutes on court, Sakkari will face high-flying English teenager Emma Raducanu for a spot in the Flushing Meadows decider.

Pliskova entered the quarter-final, having rediscovered her best form after a slow start to the season – the Czech star claimed just 15 wins from her first 12 WTA Tour tournaments before winning 19 matches from five events, reaching two finals, since the start of July.

But Sakkari proved too good on Arthur Ashe Stadium, where the 26-year-old utilised her almost flawless serve.

Sakkari lost just two points on serve in the opening set – claiming 92 per cent of her first serves, while hitting 12 winners and clinching the decisive break.

Pliskova owned three top-20 wins this season as she was looking to emulate countrywoman Hana Mandlikova, who won the US Open in 1985.

But the second set followed a similar pattern, Sakkari tallying 10 winners while winning 11 of her 12 first serves, closing out the match at the third time of asking.

 

Data Slam: Sakkari matches career high

With her dominant win over Pliskova, Sakkari – who did not face a break point – tallied her 31st victory of the year. It equalled her best return from 2019, when she finished with a 31-23 win-loss record.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Pliskova – 14/20
Sakkari – 22/12

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Pliskova – 6/3
Sakkari – 4/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Pliskova – 0/0
Sakkari – 2/5

Alexander Zverev won his 16th match in a row with a straight-sets victory over Lloyd Harris on Wednesday to reach the US Open semi-finals.

The fourth seed saved a set point from Harris in a tense opener and built on that to earn a 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 6-4 triumph in a little over two hours.

Zverev has dropped just one set across his five matches at Flushing Meadows this year and will face either Novak Djokovic or Matteo Berrettini as he seeks a place in back-to-back finals.

"I just hope their match goes on for eight hours and 30 minutes," Zverev joked when asked who he would prefer to face in the semi-finals.

"I didn't have a lot of chances on Harris' serve today and somehow managed to win that first set, which loosened me up a little bit and I started playing a lot better.

"In the third set, he started swinging. He started playing incredible tennis. So yeah, I'm happy to be through in three."

Harris beat three top-30 seeds to make it to this stage and more than held his own in the opening set against Zverev, who lost to Dominic Thiem in last year's final.

After sharing a break of serve apiece, Harris led 6-5 in the tie-break but lost the next three points to offer his opponent a platform to build from.

Despite struggling with a minor back problem, Zverev took advantage of his unseeded opponent's five unforced errors by holding throughout the second set.

The four-time grand slam semi-finalist raced into a 4-0 lead in the third set, but Harris slowly regained his composure and claimed the next three games.

Zverev's monster serve came to his rescue, however, as he took the eighth game and eased over the line in style with his 21st ace of the contest.

 

DATA SLAM

Zverev did not have things all his own way as he struggled in the opening set and was sloppy when leading 4-1 in the final set, but he ultimately proved too strong for an opponent ranked 46th in the world.

Last year's beaten finalist Zverev has served 83 aces and just 15 double faults across his first five matches and won 82 per cent of his first-serve points against Harris. Whether it is Djokovic or Berrettini, a tougher test awaits in the semi-finals.


WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Zverev – 43/26
Harris – 34/26

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Zverev – 21/5
Harris – 13/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Zverev – 4/9
Harris – 2/3

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