Djokovic takes Olympics revenge
Top seed beats Zverev in 5 sets in an Olympics SF rematch
NEW YORK: World No. 1 Novak Djokovic advanced to the U.S. Open semi-finals by defeating German Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
Djokovic moved within one win of a men's record 21 Grand Slam titles and avenged his loss to Zverev at the Tokyo Olympics in front of a raucous crowd inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, with Rod Laver sitting in the front row, the last man to do so 52 years ago.
"There’s only one match left. All in, all in. Let’s do it," Djokovic said.
"I’m going to put my heart and my soul and my body and my head into that one. I’m going to treat the next match like it is the last match of my career."
He will face Russian Daniil Medvedev in the final on Sunday, after the world No. 2 eliminated Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, 21, in his semi-final.
Djokovic gave the German his first break of the night with a double fault in the first set but otherwise showed no mercy, hitting 41 winners and a dozen aces over the course of the match.
Survival of the fittest was the theme of the third set. Djokovic led 40-0 in the tenth game, only to see Zverev fend off two break points in marathon rallies, including a 53-shot exchange, before breaking the German's serve for the set point.
Djokovic won a 30-shot rally for the early break, but after fending off four breakpoints, Zverev converted in the seventh game to tie the match at two sets apiece. In the next game, he broke Zverev's serve before hoisting his arms in the air to wild applause from the crowd.
"The best atmosphere of the tournament so far," said Djokovic, who has had a fitful relationship with the New York crowd at times.
"These are the moments we live for and these are the kind of unique opportunities that we dream of every day... So thank you so much for making it special."
The evening was another setback for Zverev, who came within two points of winning the tournament a year ago and must now leave empty-handed after also reaching the semi-finals of Roland Garros.
"Alexander is a big champion, someone I admire both on and off the court," Djokovic said.
"I knew coming into the court today there is going to be a great battle, as we said, prior to this match. I hope that we brought energy."
Djokovic, who has already won the trophy at Flushing Meadows three times, has now matched Federer's record of 31 Grand Slam men's singles finals.
Edited - SportsAction / Inputs - Agency