Friday, September 10, 2021

Djokovic tops Zverev, eyes history vs. Medvedev in final

Novak Djokovic needs one more victory to earn the first calendar-
year Grand Slam in 52 years and a record 21st major singles title.
2015 photo by Paul Bauman
  Only Daniil Medvedev stands in the way of history for Novak Djokovic.
  In a match filled with breathtaking rallies, the top-ranked Djokovic defeated No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 tonight in the U.S. Open to move within one victory of becoming the first man to earn a calendar-year Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.
   Djokovic, who lost the first set for the fourth consecutive match, also can break the record of 20 Grand Slam men's singles titles he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both of whom missed the U.S. Open with injuries. 
   Djokovic ended the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Zverev's winning streak at 16 matches, including the gold medal in men's singles in the Tokyo Olympics. Zverev, who has denied domestic abuse allegations, ended Djokovic's bid for a Golden Slam in the Olympic semifinals.
   Zverev advanced to last year's U.S. Open final, losing to Dominic Thiem after leading two sets to none.
   In tonight's fifth set, Zverev blew an overhead to trail by two service breaks at 0-4, and Djokovic held for 5-0. Zverev then held serve and converted his fifth break point on Djokovic's double fault for 2-5, but Djokovic broke back for the match.
   On Djokovic's first set point in the third set, Zverev ended a 53-ball rally with an inside-out forehand passing shot. Djokovic put away an overhead on the next point to take the set. 
   Djokovic won the fourth set when he finished a 30-ball rally with a forehand cross-court passing shot.
   Djokovic is scheduled to play the second-seeded Medvedev of Russia on Sunday at 1 p.m. (ESPN).
   The 6-foot-6 Medvedev, 25, eliminated No. 12 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, the first Canadian man to reach the U.S. Open semis, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 to advance to his third Grand Slam singles final. Medvedev rallied from 2-5 in the second set and saved two set points at 4-5.
  Djokovic is 5-3 against Medvedev, who has won three of the last five meetings.
   Men's doubles — No. 4 seeds Rajeev Ram, a 37-year-old volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain beat No. 7 seeds Jamie Murray of Great Britain and Bruno Soares of Brazil 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 for their second Grand Slam men's doubles crown.
   Ram and Salisbury, who also won the 2020 Australian Open, saved four match points against unseeded Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell of Australia in the quarterfinals.
   Ram also owns two Australian Open mixed doubles titles (with Barbora Krejcikova in 2019 and 2021) and an Olympic silver medal in mixed doubles (with Venus Williams in 2016.)
   Salisbury, 29, also advanced to the U.S. Open mixed doubles final with Desirae Krawczyk of Palm Desert, Calif. Seeded second, they are set to play unseeded Giuliana Olmos, an Austria native who grew up in Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area and represents Mexico, and Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador on Saturday. 
   Salisbury is trying to become the first player to win the men's doubles and mixed doubles titles in the same year at the U.S. Open since Bob Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) in 2010.
   Krawczyk, a 27-year-old left-hander, seeks her third consecutive Grand Slam mixed doubles crown. She won the French Open with Salisbury and Wimbledon with Neal Skupski of Great Britain this year.
   Soares, 39, was playing in his first tournament since Wimbledon. He had an appendectomy upon arriving in Tokyo for the Olympics.
   Murray, Andy's older brother, and Soares won the Australian Open and U.S. Open in 2016. Soares also prevailed at Flushing Meadows last year with Mate Pavic of Croatia.
   Boys doubles — Wild cards Nicholas Godsick of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and Ethan Quinn of Fresno, Calif., surprised No. 3 seeds Sean Cuenin and Sascha Gueymard Wayenburg of France 6-2, 7-5 in the quarterfinals.
   Godsick's parents are Mary Joe Fernandez, a former top-five player in singles and doubles who now works as an ESPN commentator, and Tony Godsick, Federer's agent.

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