Novak Djokovic reacts with a yell in the fifth set...

Novak Djokovic reacts with a yell in the fifth set after breaking Alexander Zverev during their U.S. Open semifinal match at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center on Friday. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Novak Djokovic is on the verge of history with one match to go.

After defeating Alexander Zverev in the U.S. Open semifinals at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday night, he can complete the calendar year Grand Slam on Sunday when he faces Daniil Medvedev, something that was last done by a male player in 1969 by Rod Laver.

Plus if he wins it will be his 21st Grand Slam title, breaking the tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

"The best atmosphere of the tournament so far," Djokovic said after the match. "I knew it was going to be a great battle and hope we put on a good show for you guys."

It was far from easy. Zverev, who beat Djokovic at the Olympics, pushed the top seed to five sets before losing, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

Zverev played a very strong first set, getting a break in then ninth game and serving it out. He was pounding serves of 130 mph-plus, even a couple of that speed with his second serve. But his level of play dropped inexplicably in the second set and Djokovic, the best returner in the game, was getting his timing down. He broke Zverev twice to even the match.

Djokovic fought off three break points in two different service games in the third set then found himself up 5-4, 40-love on Zverev’s serve in the 10th game. Zverev saved the first break point with the longest point of the match, 53 shots that lasted 1 minute,18 seconds with Zverev hitting a forehand winner. Then Djokovic knocked off an overhead for the game and the set.

Djokovic started to play faster, hoping to rush Zverev, but it was Djokovic who succumbed first, getting broken in the third game of the fourth set and Zverev would go on to pull it out.

Then came the deciding fifth set, where it came undone for Zverev, getting broken twice to go down 5-0. He fought back to gain a break, but it wasn’t enough.

Medvedev is back for another crack at a U.S. Open title and another crack at Djokovic in a major.

The Open’s second seed powered his way past Felix Auger-Aliasimme in the day semifinal at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

In the 2019 Open Medvedev made his first appearance in any Grand Slam final in a loss to Rafael Nadal. He came back from two sets down to take it to the deciding fifth. He earned the respect of the New York crowd after earlier in the tournament earning their wrath for some on-court antics. Boos rained down on him, and he invited them, telling the fans it only inspired him to do better.

Now it’s 2021 and while Medvedev isn’t exactly the fans’ darling, he still has their respect and was warmly cheered after his win, which turned out to be a fairly routine one. After winning a close first set and being down a break in the second, Medvedev roared back for a 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 victory. Medvedev has lost only one set in six matches and plays with a pleasing economy of effort.

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