At U.S. Open, Novak Djokovic Moves One Step Closer to Grand Slam

The U.S. Open has waited 52 years for a person to have an opportunity at successful the Grand Slam, so what’s a number of further hours?

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic, undefeated in best-of-five matches this yr as he pursues the Grand Slam, once more lingered in lengthy kind play on Wednesday night time in Arthur Ashe Stadium earlier than rerouting to a romp of the sixth-seeded Matteo Berrettini, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-Three.

Djokovic’s first set in opposition to Berrettini was the third straight time he had misplaced the opening body, and likewise his most taxing set of the match. The first sport lasted for 14 factors; the sixth sport wanted 20 factors. Though Djokovic was damaged within the 11th sport on a forehand passing shot winner by Berrettini and misplaced the set quickly after, it was Berrettini who wanted to go away the courtroom to change out of his sweat-soaked apparel simply an hour and 17 minutes into the match.

Djokovic’s detours at this match haven’t led to despondency, however discovery.

The first set in opposition to Berrettini was the fourth set Djokovic has misplaced this match. As he did every time earlier than, Djokovic took the knowledge he gleaned and reprogrammed his sport with elevated precision. After hitting 17 unforced errors within the first set, he hit solely three within the second and three within the third. Djokovic had 5 unforced errors within the fourth set.

Through pressure of will and persistence, he turned the match in his favor, and even gained over a number of the begrudging crowd. When he held for 5-2 within the third, after saving a Berrettini break level and extinguishing any hope for a comeback, Djokovic held his hand to his ear, imploring the group to acknowledge his indomitability as he strikes nearer to the Grand Slam, and a document 21st profession main singles title.

After he bought up a break early within the fourth set, Djokovic appeared to shift to a decrease gear to coast to the end, successful solely two extra factors on return to preserve vitality. When he wrapped up the victory after three hours and 27 minutes, Djokovic walked briskly to the online, losing little vitality on an elaborate celebration. He took a number of seconds to discover the wristwatch he dons for the on-court interview to fulfill sponsor obligations.

“I was locked in, really, from the beginning of the second set,” Djokovic stated in his on-court interview. “I took my tennis to a different level. This has been the best three sets I’ve played so far in the tournament, for sure.”

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Djokovic has gained the primary 26 of the 28 matches he wants to full the Grand Slam, however his 27th check might show to be one among his hardest. On Friday night time, Djokovic will face fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev, whose 16-match win streak features a win over Djokovic within the semifinals of final month’s Tokyo Olympics.

Zverev wanted solely two hours and 6 minutes to full his personal quarterfinal victory hours earlier, avoiding delay by saving a set level within the tiebreak of his 7-6(6), 6-Three, 6-Four win over Lloyd Harris.

Where Djokovic has been efficient, Zverev has been environment friendly. Zverev has wanted solely 9 hours and 23 minutes to full his 5 wins right here; Djokovic has wanted 13 hours and 52 minutes.

In his information convention on Wednesday, Zverev confirmed confidence however acknowledged the duty forward of him.

“Against him you prepare that you have to play the best match that you can,” Zverev stated of dealing with Djokovic. “You have to be excellent, in any other case you’ll not win.

“Most of the time you possibly can’t be excellent,” Zverev added. “That’s why most of the time people lose to him.”