US Open: Medvedev ousts defending champion Alcaraz, sets up title clash with Djokovic

Sports Saturday 09/September/2023 09:22 AM
US Open: Medvedev ousts defending champion Alcaraz, sets up title clash with Djokovic

New York : Russia's Daniil Medvedev ousted the defending champion Carlos Alcaraz to set up a US Open final clash with Novak Djokovic on Friday night.

Medvedev beat Alcaraz 7-6(3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

The 27-year-old set up the US Open 2021 final rematch against Djokovic. Two years back, Medvedev in a stunner, denied the Serbian of fulfilling his dream of winning all four Grand Slams in a single season. Now on Sunday, he will try to keep Djokovic away from a record 24th Grand Slam title.

"The challenge is to play a guy who won 23 Grand Slams and I have only one. When I beat him here, I managed to play better than myself and I need to do it again. There is no other way," said Medvedev as quoted by ATP.

Medvedev said that to win over Alcaraz, he needed an "11 out of 10" performance". He saved eight of nine break points to clinch a win in three hours, and 18 minutes and reach his third title clash in New York.

"I said I needed to play 11 out of 10. I played 12 out of 10, except the third set. That is the only way. I do not know if he's still 20 or 21, but [he is] so young, already two Grand Slams, World No. 1 for many weeks. It is honestly just pretty unbelievable and I think nobody has done it before him. To beat him, you need to be better than yourself and I managed to do it," he said.

Medvedev entered the semis having lost his previous two matches against the young Spanish this season, with Alcaraz winning all five sets in these matches and not losing more than three games in any of these sets.

In Arthur Ashe Stadium, Medvedev put on a virtually faultless performance, preventing his opponent from mounting his first two-set comeback of his career. However, that did not seem to phase Medvedev. Alcaraz is 5-0 in Flushing Meadows and 9-1 in five-set matches, but the 20-year-old was unable to force a fifth set against Medvedev, who is 4-9 in such matches.

The 27-year-old had a disappointing North American hard-court summer, falling in the quarterfinals in Toronto and the third round in Cincinnati. A tour-leading 38-5 on hard courts this year with four championships on the surface (Rotterdam, Doha, Dubai, Miami), the third seed has, however, played his best tennis in the season's last major.

Medvedev was great with his footwork and ball-striking, especially off the forehand win. The top seed Alcaraz could not dictate the game as much as he wanted, leading to errors in crucial situations.

There was not much separating Medvedev and Alcaraz in the opening set, despite Tom Brady, Kevin Durant, and Charlize Theron being the most prominent personalities in the audience. Alcaraz, though, made a weak drop volley in the tie-break, which gave Medvedev the opportunity to chase down a forehand and win the crucial mini-break.

Alcaraz failed to reset in time for a strong start to the second set. The Spaniard frequently moved forward to take advantage of his opponent's deep court location early, but he blasted a forehand drop ball into the net to give up a break right away and was never able to get it back. Medvedev's game was perfect as he earned another break with an amazing one-handed backhand shot on the full stretch.

But Alcaraz resisted being defeated easily. At 2-1 in the match, the defending Wimbledon champion broke serve for the first time and was able to maintain her lead. Medvedev continued to play deep in the court as the defending champion advanced.

In the third set, the 20-year-old claimed 13 of 15 net points, compared to Medvedev's four out of 13. While his opponent frequently found themselves on the receiving end of thunderous passing shots, Alcaraz advanced with confidence and was in control of the game's points.

"The third set was not so bad, I lost one serve. I did not have a lot of opportunities on his serve, but I felt like I was not that far. So I was like, 'I have to continue pushing. I have to do a little bit better on my serve.' I saved some break points at 1-all. There was a very crucial, super-long game where I managed to do some amazing points to stay in the game and then he kind of — maybe we do not see him do this often — he started to miss a little bit. Yeah, amazing," said Medvedev.

As Medvedev continued to return from far behind the baseline, Alcaraz served and volleyed consistently, showcasing top-level forecourt skills. But the Russian forced a net mistake from his opponent to break for 4-2. After an emphatic love hold to move within one game of victory, the Russians needed to claw to the finish line. He earned three break points in the final game of the match, but the 2021 champion refused to lose.