First set: Djokovic 0-1 Medvedev* (* denotes next server)
Medvedev breaks serve!
Nerves? Djokovic needs a second serve on the first point but quickly forces an error to go up 15-0. Then he double-faults.
But then he finds his footing on the baseline. Medvedev tries a drop shot against the man who rattled off what seemed like dozens of drop shots against Zverev, and Djokovic gets there in plenty of time to slam it and go up 40-15.
Djokovic errs on the next point. Then Medvedev uses an array of clever shots in the longest rally of the game so far, eventually forcing Djokovic to stretch for a shot that he airballs beyond the baseline. Deuce.
Then break point! Djokovic hits just a tiny bit wide. Spike Lee is in attendance and grins as he sees the replay and holds two fingers a millimeter or so apart.
On break point itself, no camera precision is necessary, Djokovic simply misses wide by a couple of feet, and Medvedev is up.
While we wait to get going, check out this great moment from the semi-finals.
Like Zverev, Medvedev is 6-foot-6.
Brad Pitt and Bradley Cooper are sitting next to each. Maria Sharapova is there.
OK, let’s play. Djokovic to serve.
Djokovic speaks. He’ll be ready for a battle and will see how it goes.
Tennis players probably need to be focused, but just once, wouldn’t you love to see a pre-match interview in which someone talks about being inspired by Plato and Kermit the Frog or something?
We get a couple of crowd shots. Alec Baldwin is there and looks grumpy.
Medvedev speaks. He’s 100% ready. He learned from his Australian Open loss that he has to be much better. Does that mean he was only 81% ready in Australia?
We’ll be getting underway soon after this rendition of America the Beautiful ends. In other words, about an hour.
Superior song to the actual national anthem, but all such pregame singer showcases should really be limited to 90 seconds.
A classic Open …
Hard to top the drama of the last two days in singles this year. We’ll have No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the men’s finals thanks to Djokovic subduing his nemesis Alexander Zverev.
Then we had the least predictable women’s final imaginable, with UK! UK! UK!’s Emma Raducanu coming from nowhere to win.
It’s important to note Raducanu has already done something Djokovic probably never will …
And from Twitter:
Given Djokovic’s propensity for dropping the first set in this tournament, a four-set wins seems to be a rather sound choice.
People must be excited. Mail is already coming in …
From Paulo Biriani: “In some ways Novak is a difficult figure to love in the way that Federer and Nadal seem to be by many but, my word, it is so easy to admire what he has achieved. He is a phenomenon. Absolutely incredible, really. That Andy Murray was able to beat him a few times makes my admiration for him take a notch up or two as well. I think we’ve been spoilt by the sheer majesty of these players for the last however many years. I hope he wins and that’s without any disrespect to his talented opponent. It would just seem, well, right.”
Any other thoughts? Is Djokovic underappreciated because he sometimes agitates fans?
For what’s it’s worth, count Medvedev among Djokovic’s fans.
Thanks for joining us for the big showdown today as second-ranked Daniil Medvedev challenges top-ranked Novak Djokovic. After losing to Djokovic the first three times they played, Medvedev has won three of the last five meetings — 2019 ATP Masters 1000 Monte Carlo, 2019 ATP Masters 1000 Cincinnati, 2020 ATP Finals. Djokovic won in straight sets in the Australian Open earlier this year.
Little bit of a difference here. Medvedev has never won a major. Djokovic, as you might have heard, is aiming for the first calendar-year grand slam since 1969 and sole possession of the record for most majors in men’s singles — 21, which would break a tie with contemporaries Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both of whom haven’t retired but stalled.
Beau will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s Tumaini Carayol on Novak Djokovic’s quest for the calendar slam:
After a deeply satisfied Novak Djokovic had put his racket away following another job well done on Friday night, in the post-match interview of his five-set win over Alexander Zverev the interviewer started a question by listing all of the potential achievements on the line in his final match. As soon as Djokovic understood where the question was going, he cut the question off: “I’m going for a fourth US Open, that’s all I’m thinking about,” he said, smiling.
Further prompts about Djokovic’s grand slam attempt followed: “It’s there, it’s there,” said Djokovic. “I know that people would like to hear me talk about it, but there is not much to talk about. There’s only one match left. All in, all in. Let’s do it. I’m going to put my heart and my soul and my head into that one. I’m going to treat my next match like it is the last match of my career.”
This was not the first time this happened. Djokovic was also understandably not too interested in speaking about the subject in detail after his quarter-final and he later explained that being constantly prompted about the subject leads him to think too much about it, which can “burden” him mentally. He has already said plenty.
Few champions have mastered the knack of speaking openly about their goals and then going out and achieving them, and so this underlines how uniquely difficult the grand slam is to achieve. The sporting challenge of winning all 28 matches in a year is unfathomably difficult alone, but keeping your head throughout as people constantly remind you of the magnitude of the achievement at times seems unbearable.