Novak Djokovic is moving like a steamroller towards the Grand Slam but grains of sand could block the Serbian machine at the US Open: Medvedev, Zverev, Tsitsipas … even the Djoker himself.
Daniil Medvedev (RUS, 2nd in the world, 25, 1.98m)
Since pushing Nadal to the 5th set in the 2019 final, Medvedev has progressed on the courts and in the standings.
He lost his second major final last February at the Australian Open against Djokovic, but dreams of revenge on the courts of Flushing Meadows: he can only face the Serbian in the final.
“We’re here to prevent him from winning the US Open. I want to win the US Open. I don’t care if I face a qualifier or Novak in the final, I just want to win this tournament. But we all know Novak is very strong and one of the best players in history. Whatever tournament he enters, he is one of the big favorites, ”Medvedev said three days before the start of the final round of the 2021 Grand Slam.
The Russian has 3 wins for 5 losses against the Serbian.
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE, 3rd in the world, 23 years old, 1.93m)
Firmly established in the World Top 10 since March 2019, Tsitsipas ended up winning his first Masters 1000 this year on the clay courts of Monte-Carlo, his first big title with the Masters at the end of the year in 2019.
The Monegasque title gave him confidence as he played his first major final a few weeks later, lost in five sets to Djokovic at Roland Garros.
With two semi-finals at the Masters 1000 in Canada and Cincinnati in preparation for the US Open, he intends to take his place, if not more, at Flushing Meadows where his best result was the third round reached last year. He was beaten by Borna Coric in the tie-break of the fifth set after having had six match points.
“I consider it a positive defeat even though I was so close to victory. I came out stronger and certain that it would be better in the future,” he commented on Friday in ensuring “to have the game to win Grand Slam titles”.
He has two wins for six losses against Djokovic whom he could face in the final at the US Open.
Alexander Zverev (GER, 4th in the world, 24 years old, 1.98m)
Finalist last year, Zverev arrives this year full of confidence.
Gold medalist at the Tokyo Olympics after eliminating Djokovic in the semi-finals, he followed up with a title at the Masters 1000 in Cincinnati where he notably dismissed Tsitsipas in the semi-finals before largely dominating Andrey Rublev in the final.
Leader of the young generation when he won his first two Masters 1000 in 2017 (Rome and Canada) and became No. 3 at ATP at the end of the season, the German was then overwhelmed by Medvedev and Tsitsipas. But he never lost his faith, remaining convinced that he could beat the best and win in Major. Especially in New York where he came so close last year.
“In a way, it kindles the flame in me, because I was two points away from winning the final. I have trained several times on center court and memories have come back. I remember it, I always have it in the back of my head. So I’m very motivated and I can’t wait to start the tournament because … I was really not far last year, ”he commented.
He has a record of 3 wins for six losses against Djokovic whom he could face in the semi-finals.
The Djokovic case
In 2019 Djokovic was forced to retire with a right shoulder injury. In 2020, in the absence of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the way seemed clear, until a gesture of nervousness was punished by a stroke of fate.
The Serb had struck without looking at a ball behind him and had hit one of the few people present in the huge enclosure of Arthur-Ashe court empty of public … a linesman in the throat. Immediate sanction, disqualification.
How will he be this year, physically and psychologically, faced with the historic challenge?