The war of three will not take place: after two legendary finals this season between Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz, the latter missed the meeting at the US Open by falling on Friday in the semi-finals against Daniil Medvedev exceptional.
The Russian, third in the world and winner at Flushing Meadows in 2021 when he prevented Djokovic from winning the Grand Slam, won 7-6 (7/3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 his spectacular arm of iron of 3h19 against the Spaniard.
“It's crazy to be back in the final, especially winning against Carlos... He had easily beaten me in our last two meetings, so before the match I had a lot of doubts. But I played a very good game and I will be there on Sunday!”, commented the 27-year-old Russian. “I said you had to play at a level of 11/10 to hope to beat Carlos, I played 12/10!”, he congratulated himself.
For his part, Alcaraz regretted not having “found the solutions” in the face of Medvedev who “raised his level compared to what (the Spaniard) expected”.
The Murcian was hoping for a new duel against Djokovic after his victory at Wimbledon and his defeat in Cincinnati.
After a defeat in 2019 against Rafael Nadal and a victory in 2021 against Djokovic, it is therefore a third New York final that Medvedev is preparing to play on Sunday, his fifth in a Grand Slam. This will be the third against the Serb.
So how big is the challenge? "I play against a guy who has 23 Grand Slam titles, and me, a... Like today, I will have to play better than myself if I want to have a chance", insisted Medvedev who had reached the place of world No.1 in 2022.
Djokovic will regain this place on Monday when the new ATP rankings are published whatever happens on Sunday. To reach the final, the 36-year-old Serbian dominated the fiery Ben Shelton (47th) 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4).
When the 20-year-old American made his late break in the third set and then pushed Djokovic into a tie break, the Djoker saw a little red.
To the point of taking Shelton at his own game in his demonstrations of joy: since the start of the tournament, the American celebrated his victories by miming with his hand a telephone handset which he hung up. So after winning the match point, Djokovic made the same gesture: game over for the newcomer to the circuit, discovered in January when he reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for his first outing. the United States.
As a result, the handshake was rather cool. “Everything was fine and then he came back and from there the match could have changed,” said Djokovic, suggesting a little worry which could explain his provocative gesture.
“I love the way he celebrates a victory. I find it very original so I copied it. I stole his celebration,” he quipped with a knowing smile.
“As a child, I was always told that imitation was the sincerest form of flattery,” Shelton commented.
After 2:41 of a match that he ultimately always controlled, Djokovic therefore qualified for his tenth final at Flushing Meadows, equaling Bill Tilden's record. To date, he has only won three times (2011, 2015 and 2021).
He has also now reached the finals of the four Majors for the third time in the same season (after 2015 and 2021) and he brings his record for Grand Slam finals to 36, now five lengths ahead of Roger Federer.
But above all, he offers himself a new chance to equal the absolute record of 24 Grand Slam titles established by the Australian Margaret Court. This will require beating Medvedev, "the most consistent player on hard," he said.
But the Serb assured Friday “to still have some in the legs” and to be happy to “be able to play a new Grand Slam final”. He nevertheless had to appreciate the show and especially the determination of Medvedev and Alcaraz to go to the end of their strength: he may miss the Russian a little on Sunday.