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US Open Tennis 2021 Men's Final: Novak Djokovic vs. Daniil Medvedev Preview

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IISeptember 12, 2021

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, reacts after winning the third set against Alexander Zverev, of Germany, during the semifinals of the US Open tennis championships, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

There's one singles match remaining on the 2021 U.S. Open schedule. And it's a huge one that could result in tennis history being made.

Novak Djokovic has once again made it to the final of a major tournament, rolling through his side of the bracket as the No. 1 seed. He will be taking on No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev on Sunday at Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City. But there's more pressure on Djokovic than usual.

During his incredible career, the Serb has won 20 Grand Slams, including three in 2021. By winning Sunday, Djokovic would complete a calendar Grand Slam, something no men's singles player has accomplished since Rod Laver in 1969. He would also break a three-way tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and move into sole possession of first place on the all-time men's singles Grand Slam leaderboard.

Medvedev has plenty of motivation too. He's never won a Grand Slam event, and he's already lost to Djokovic once in the final of a major tournament this year (the Australian Open in February).

Here's everything else you need to know heading into Sunday's U.S. Open men's signles final.

                      

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2021 U.S. Open Men's Singles Final Information

Date: Sunday, Sept. 12

Start Time: 4 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

                

Preview

Djokovic may be showing no signs of slowing down, but he's already one of the greatest tennis players of all time. It's been impressive to watch him pile up Grand Slam titles and continually defeat the majority of men who step on to the court to face him.

Because of that, it seemed likely that Djokovic would be in the final even before the U.S. Open began.

While Djokovic has been among the top men's tennis players in the world for more than a decade, 2021 has been his best year yet. There have been only rare missteps, such as when he lost his final two matches at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this summer and didn't come away with a medal.

But when the stakes are the highest, Djokovic has continued to find ways to deliver. That's how he left the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon as the champion. And now he's one win away from doing the same at the U.S. Open.

It hasn't been an easy path for Djokovic, though. He was pushed to his limit in the semifinals, when he pulled out a five-set victory over No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev. That came after Djokovic went four sets in four of his first five matches at the tournament, including his quarterfinal win against No. 6 Matteo Berrettini in a rematch of this year's Wimbledon final.

Djokovic knows what's at stake for him Sunday. But he's focused on one thing: winning.

"I'll be giving it all I've possibly got in the tank to win this match," Djokovic said, per Howard Fendrich of the Associated Press. "I'm focusing on recovery, recalibrating all the systems, basically, for Sunday. I'm not going to waste time or energy on anything that can just be a distraction and deplete me from the vital energy that I need."

Djokovic is likely right in that he will need that energy to take down Medvedev, who should break through and win a Grand Slam title at some point. The 25-year-old is set to play in his third major final after previously making it this far at the 2019 U.S. Open and this year's Australian Open, where he lost to Djokovic.

Although Djokovic won that meeting, Medvedev has defeated Djokovic before. Their all-time series stands at 5-3 in favor of the Serb.

Prior to the Australian Open, Medvedev had won three of his previous four matches against Djokovic. But he's never defeated the 34-year-old at a major tournament.

Medvedev could notch the biggest win of his career Sunday. But he also realizes the historic stakes Djokovic is facing heading into the match.

"From one side, for sure he's going to feel the pressure a little bit about it," Medvedev said, per Fendrich. "From the other side, that is what is going to make him be even better in tough moments."

It's always exciting to see the top two seeds at a major tournament go head-to-head in the final. Djokovic and Medvedev are likely going to play a competitive match. And no matter the outcome, it's going to be a special win for the victor.

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