U.S. Open Live: Djokovic vs. Medvedev
One story that may have been overlooked on Saturday, amid the excitement of Emma Raducanu’s U.S. Open women’s singles victory, was the combined success of Desirae Krawczyk of the United States and Joe Salisbury of Britain.
The pair won the mixed doubles championship, giving Krawczyk a third major mixed doubles title this year, one short of a Grand Slam.
The pair defeated Giuliana Olmos of Mexico and Marcelo Arevalo of Spain, 7-5, 6-2.
Krawczyk won this year’s French Open with Salisbury and Wimbledon with Neal Skupski. She is the seventh player, male or female, to win three major mixed doubles titles in the Open era, and the first since Martina Hingis and Leander Paes in 2015. The two other women to have done it were Martina Navratilova (1985) and Margaret Court (1969).
“Honestly, just to think about that, it’s just crazy to me,” said Krawczyk, who was born in Palm Desert, Calif., and played at Arizona State before turning professional. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. No, I’m just happy to be able to play in front of a lot of friends and family here and to play with Joe and have our whole team with us.”
Salisbury also won men’s doubles, with Rajeev Ram of the United States, and became the first man to win both events at the U.S. Open in the same year since Bob Bryan in 2010.
One interesting factor in Sunday’s final will be the fickle New York crowd, which has been far slower to embrace Djokovic than it has other legends of the game.
It remains to be seen whether the crowd will be more encouraging as he tries to defeat Daniil Medvedev and claim the first men’s calendar-year Grand Slam since 1969.
Djokovic, who is beloved in the Balkans and is also one of the most popular tennis players in China, has struggled to win over fans in countries where the major tennis tournaments are held.
Despite his nine titles in Australia, for example, he remains an object of national derision, as reflected in a game show earlier this year.
The crowd reception in Arthur Ashe Stadium has been mixed for Djokovic during this tournament, far inferior to the full-throated support that Serena Williams received during her Grand Slam bid in 2015.
“Obviously you always wish to have the crowd behind you, but it’s not always possible,” Djokovic said last week.
Djokovic said he thought the crowd was booing him during the first round here this year; spectators were actually enthusiastically chanting the surname of his opponent, Holger Rune.
“It was not an ideal atmosphere for me to tell you that,” Djokovic said. “But I’ve been in these particular atmospheres before, so I knew how to handle it.”
Daniil Medvedev was part of the ATP’s “NextGen” campaign, which began in 2017 with hopes of promoting the younger generation of men’s tennis stars who had yet to make major breakthroughs.
Four years later, the same guys have still been winning nearly all the major trophies, with Novak Djokovic, 34, maintaining the dominance he once shared with other members of the so-called Big 4: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray.
That group’s dominance, however, has led to extraordinary stagnation in the sport’s pipeline.
Only one man born in the 1990s, the 2020 U.S. Open champion, Dominic Thiem, has won a major singles title, and he did so after Djokovic was defaulted from that Open after inadvertently striking a line judge with a ball.
Thiem, who turned 28 this month, is hardly young for a tennis player, but he is the youngest active male player to have won a Grand Slam singles title.
That is in sharp contrast to women’s tennis, where on Saturday Emma Raducanu, 18, became the third player born in the 2000s to win a major.
Medvedev, who will try to defeat Djokovic in today’s Open final, would seem best positioned to make a breakthrough; this year he became the first man outside the “Big 4” to hold the ATP No. 2 ranking since 2005. But at 25, he is already a veteran by the standards of most generations.
Novak Djokovic is one match away from completing the Grand Slam in men’s singles for the first time since 1969, when Rod Laver did it in the first full year that major tournaments were open to professionals.
Few have come anywhere near that achievement in the decades since: When he won Wimbledon in July, Djokovic already became the first man since Laver to have won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in the same year. After winning his U.S. Open semifinal on Friday, Djokovic cited an interview where Kobe Bryant said he wasn’t happy about having taken a 3-1 lead in the N.B.A. Finals to explain his mind-set.
“That’s kind of an attitude I have; job is not done,” Djokovic said. “Excitement is there. Motivation is there, without a doubt, probably more than ever. But I have one more to go.”
By reaching the final, Djokovic has made it one step closer than Serena Williams’s Grand Slam bid came in 2015, when she lost in the semifinals to Roberta Vinci. Djokovic, who has recently followed Williams’s lead in declining to answer questions about the goal that he is pursuing, said he could relate to what she was going through.
“I was talking to Serena; she was very emotional about everything that was going on,” Djokovic said of Williams in 2015. “I can relate to what she’s been going through right now, I understand it now. Obviously, once you’re in that situation, you can really comprehend what a player goes through.
“I understand why she wanted to avoid all the questions about it because in the end of the day, you have to go out on the court and deliver,” he added. “You’re expected to always win. For a great legend that she is, she always has that expectations from everyone, including herself. It’s no different with me.”
If Saturday’s U.S. Open women’s final was perhaps the most surprising Grand Slam final in tennis history — featuring two unseeded teenagers, Leylah Fernandez of Canada and eventual winner Emma Raducanu of Britain — then the Open men’s final is perhaps the least surprising.
It feels as though we have been waiting all year for this, or at least since Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open, then the French Open, and then Wimbledon. Now Djokovic will attempt to beat Daniil Medvedev to win the first men’s calendar-year Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969, and the first since Steffi Graf won a Golden Slam — all four major tournaments plus the Olympic gold medal — in 1988. It is arguably the rarest achievement in tennis. A victory would also give Djokovic his 21st career Grand Slam title, putting him ahead of his rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Saturday, Sept. 11, at 4 p.m. Eastern time.
In the United States
On ESPN and streaming on the ESPN app.
On TSN and streaming on the TSN app.
Novak Djokovic has a looming career milestone that has been somewhat overshadowed by his bid to win all four Grand Slam tournaments in the same year. In the U.S. Open final on Sunday, he will be trying to take sole possession of the record for major men’s singles titles with a 21st. That would break a three-way tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Federer won his 20th major at the 2018 Australian Open, and Nadal won his 20th at the French Open last year, tying Federer for the first time.
(Pete Sampras, who won a record-setting 14th major title at the 2002 U.S. Open, is now a distant fourth place.)
Despite his tie with Nadal and Federer in major titles, Djokovic is considered the most successful player in men’s tennis history by most statistical measures. He has spent more time with the No. 1 world ranking than anyone else, at 337 weeks, having surpassed Federer’s record of 310 weeks earlier this year. Djokovic is also the sole player to have won all nine of the prestigious Masters 1000 events, and he has won each of them twice.
The overall Open Era record for major singles titles belongs to Serena Williams, with 23.