There's always the potential for upsets at tennis Grand Slams. Look no further than the women's singles final of this year's U.S. Open, which will be contested by a pair of unseeded teenagers.
But it always seemed unlikely that there would be anybody preventing Novak Djokovic from reaching the men's singles final in New York City. And it was no surprise to see Daniil Medvedev work his way through the other side of the bracket.
The No. 1-seeded Djokovic and the No. 2-seeded Medvedev will go head-to-head in the final of this year's fourth and final major tournament. If Djokovic wins, he will complete a rare calendar Grand Slam and notch a men's record-breaking 21st championship at a major tournament. Meanwhile, Medvedev is looking to win his first Grand Slam title.
With the men's singles final set for Sunday (4 p.m. ET on ESPN) at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, here's a look back at how we got here, followed by preview of the Djokovic-Medvedev matchup.
U.S. Open Men's Bracket Draw: Quarterfinals Through Final
No. 1 Novak Djokovic def. No. 6 Matteo Berrettini 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3
No. 2 Daniil Medvedev def. Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-0, 4-6, 7-5
No. 4 Alexander Zverev def. Lloyd Harris 7-6 (8-6), 6-3, 6-4
No. 12 Felix Auger-Aliassime def. Carlos Alcaraz 6-3, 3-1 (retired)
No. 1 Novak Djokovic def. No. 4 Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
No. 2 Daniil Medvedev def. No. 12 Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 7-5, 6-2
No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 2 Daniil Medvedev
Final Preview, Prediction
We don't have to go back far to find the last time that Djokovic and Medvedev faced off on a hard court in the final of a major tournament. At the Australian Open in February, Djokovic started his incredible year with his ninth career title at that event.
Djokovic didn't have much trouble against Medvedev at Rod Laver Arena, winning in straight sets. Since then, the Serb has added the French Open and Wimbledon titles to his 2021 resume. Medvedev didn't make it past the quarterfinals at either of those events, but he's in the U.S. Open final for the second time in three years.
While Djokovic leads his all-time series against Medvedev 5-3, three of the past five meetings between the two have gone in Medvedev's favor. However, Djokovic has won both times they have faced off at a major tournament (2021 Australian Open and 2019 Australian Open).
Medvedev knows exactly the type of challenge he's going to face Sunday evening. And the 25-year-old is eager to try to spoil Djokovic's chance at history, avenging those previous losses in Australia.
"The more you lose something, the more you want to win it. The more you want to gain it and take it," Medvedev said, per Howard Fendrich of the Associated Press. "I lost two finals. I want to win the third one."
During his U.S. Open run, Medvedev has dominated his opponents. He's dropped only one set over his first six matches: the third set of his quarterfinal win over unseeded Botic van de Zandschulp.
Medvedev has defeated two seeded opponents (No. 12 Felix Auger-Aliassime and No. 24 Daniel Evans), and he hasn't needed a tiebreaker to decide any of his winning sets. It's been an impressive performance, demonstrating he's a worthy challenger for Djokovic.
Djokovic is looking for his fourth career title at the U.S. Open—and his first since 2018. He's not had an easy run to the final, recording one straight-sets victory over his first six matches. And his semifinal against No. 4 Alexander Zverev went the distance.
But part of what makes Djokovic an all-time great is his ability to battle through adversity. And he's done that over the past two weeks in New York City.
"I'm proud of the fight that I delivered," Djokovic said after his semifinal victory, per Fendrich.
So will Djokovic make history? Or can Medvedev finally break through and capture a Grand Slam title?
While Medvedev will give it his all, Djokovic is too strong and has too much on the line. Expect the 34-year-old to win this match in four sets after getting off to a great start to become the first men's singles player to complete a calendar Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.
Prediction: Djokovic wins in four sets.