Most people thought the U.S. Open final would be Novak Djokovic vs. Carlos Alcaraz.
It isn’t, but nonetheless it is still one of the best matchups in tennis.
Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev will be facing each other for the 15th time in their careers when they battle for the U.S. Open title on Sunday afternoon. The head-to-head series stands at 9-5 in favor of Djokovic, but Medvedev dominated their previous final at this tournament via a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 decision in 2021. Out of their last 11 encounters, Djokovic has won six and Medvedev has taken five. In addition to his 2021 triumph at Flushing Meadows, the 27-year-old also thrashed Djokovic 6-4, 6-4 earlier this season in Dubai.
Thus Medvedev knows his opponent will be looking to avenge those losses.
“Against Novak, it’s the same,” Medvedev commented. “He is always better than previous time he plays. For example, I beat him (in the 2021) U.S. Open final; he beat me in Bercy in a great match. Carlos beat him (at) Wimbledon; he beat [Carlos] in Cincinnati.
“Novak is going to be his best version on Sunday, and I have to be the best-ever version of myself if I want to try to beat him.”
Medvedev is almost always his best version of himself at the U.S. Open. Not only did he lift the trophy in ’21, but he also finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal in a thrilling five-setter in ’19. Once again the Russian is playing incredible tennis in New York City. He booked a spot in his third final by beating Attila Balazs, Christopher O’Connell, Sebastian Baez, Alex de Minaur, Andrey Rublev, and Carlos Alcaraz. No one–not even Alcaraz–even forced a fifth set.
Djokovic has also been dominant for the most part at this event. The 36-year-old needed to come back from two sets down against fellow Serb Laslo Djere in the third round, but he otherwise played three-setters against Alexandre Muller, Bernabe Zapata Miralles, Borna Gojo, Taylor Fritz, and Ben Shelton.
Although this is a winnable match for an on-fire Medvedev, Djokovic isn’t dealing with the pressure of potentially winning a calendar-year Grand Slam like he was two years ago. The soon-to-be world No. 1 is looking like the best player in the world and the rankings will confirm as much on Monday regardless Sunday’s result.
Pick: Djokovic in 5
Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.