It has been clear what many wanted, and some expected as the matchup for the US Open final in the men’s singles. That was a repeat of the Wimbledon final, which saw Carlos Alcaraz beating Novak Djokovic in an epic contest. The prospect of the two meeting again has been touted regularly since the tournament began. Such talk will have been impossible to ignore for other top players in the draw.
Perhaps Daniil Medvedev was motivated by such rhetoric before and during his semifinal clash with Alcaraz at Flushing Meadows. He had previously said he was not offended by the Djokovic vs Alcaraz rivalry dominating the headlines. But that may not been the true reality. Medvedev produced an extraordinary performance to defeat the 20-year-old boi. He demonstrated why he had been written off too quickly. Medvedev is already one of the best hardcourt players ever seen in tennis, and reminded the tennis world of that on a memorable night in New York.
Story of the US Open Semifinal
A Tight First Set for Medvedev
Medvedev did start the contest somewhat slowly, missing many first serves. The Spaniard did not take advantage though. That allowed the 27-year-old to quickly grow into the match, and he served superbly in the second half of the set. Alcaraz’s serve was not majorly threatened, but Medvedev looked far more comfortable in the rallies than in the Wimbledon semifinal, where the two last met.
The set went to a tiebreak, and the crucial moments came at 3-3. Alcaraz suddenly hit three uncharacteristic unforced errors in a row to give his opponent a 6-3 lead. Medvedev duly served it out and gained a crucial advantage in the US Open semifinal.
Medvedev Masterclass in the Second Set
It is difficult to overemphasize just how superb Medvedev was in set number two. Alcaraz did drop his level somewhat, but any player would have found it tough to seriously compete. The 2021 US Open champion had a gameplan of going into the Alcaraz forehand, especially with his backhand down the line. That shot in particular caused his young opponent huge problems.
The set was not a serious contest from the beginning. Medvedev broke in the second game, and then again in the sixth game. He hit many incredible returns, successfully countering the expected Alcaraz tactic of coming to the net, in the hope of exploiting the deep return position of the six-time Masters champion.
Medvedev held serve comfortably to win the set 6-1. There was a clear sense of astonishment among the crowd inside the Arthur Ashe Stadium. The pre-match favourite desperately needed a response.
Alcaraz Responds Superbly
Alcaraz showed why he won the US Open title 12 months ago in the third set. The improvement in his level was clear from the start, holding serve to love in an authoritative manner. The 20-year-old stuck in the rallies better with Medvedev, whose game remained impressive. However, it was not impressive enough to prevent the recent Cincinnati finalist from breaking in the fourth game.
And then the quality rose even more. The variety in Alcaraz’s game began to work with greater effect, showing beautiful touch on several drop shots. His hard-hitting from the baseline began to produce more winners as well. The graft of Medvedev could not prevent the set from slipping away from him. It finished 6-3.
Medvedev Clinches US Open Final Spot
Alcaraz piled on the pressure in the early stages, and the third game was crucial. The Spaniard held break points to potentially turn the match around. But the champion in New York two years ago stood up to the challenge. A mixture of big serving and steely baseline defence thwarted the Spaniard on that occasion.
Alcaraz continued to look the more likely to get a breakthrough on return. However, the sixth game changed the course of the match. In a long and grueling battle, Medvedev somehow managed to find a break of serve. Last year’s champion held several game points. However, the more experienced man manufactured a series of magnificent shots, most notably a scarcely believable backhand winner off a first serve. And he then turned the tables to break after a failed attempt to serve and Volley from Alcaraz.
The crowd tried to rally the soon-to-be-replaced world #1. But it was to no avail. Medvedev served it out to reach the US Open final with a memorable 7-6 6-1 3-6 6-3 win.
Main Photo Credit: Geoff Burke – USA TODAY Sports