US Open Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays Daniil Medvedev for the Men’s Singles Championship - UBITENNIS
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US Open Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays Daniil Medvedev for the Men’s Singles Championship

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Novak Djokovic on Friday, hanging up the phone on Ben Shelton (twitter.com/usopen)

On Sunday in New York, the men’s singles and women’s doubles championship matches will be played.

Two years ago in the final of this same tournament, Novak Djokovic was just one match away from the ever-elusive calendar-year Grand Slam.  But on that day, a nervous and drained Novak succumbed to Daniil Medvedev, who claimed his first and only Major title to date.  Now in 2023, Djokovic vies to avenge that painful loss in the same round of the same event, and win his record-extending 24th men’s singles title at a Major.

And in the women’s doubles championship match, it will be Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe (16) vs. Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva (12).  This is a second Major final for Dabrowski in women’s doubles, and she’s already a two-time Slam champ in mixed doubles.  Routliffe is a Major final debutante. 

Siegemund and Zvonareva won this tournament in 2020.  Siegemund also won mixed doubles at this event in 2016, while Zvonareva has three US Open titles in women’s doubles (2006, 2012, 2020), two in mixed doubles (2004, 2006), and of course was a runner-up here in singles back in 2010.


Daniil Medvedev (3) vs. Novak Djokovic (2) – 4:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Djokovic is 44-5 on the year, and has now reached all four Major finals in 2023, where he’s 2-1 thus far.  He’s won five of his six matches this fortnight in straight sets, and came back from two sets down in the third round against his fellow countryman, Laslo Djere.  Novak already has four titles this year (Adelaide, Australian Open, Roland Garros, Cincinnati), with his only loss in a final coming against Carlos Alcaraz at Wimbledon.  In his career, Djokovic is 95-40 in ATP finals, and 23-12 in Major finals.

However, Novak has a sorted history at this particular Major.  He is only 3-6 in US Open finals, which is a startling stat for a man easily considered the best male hard court player of all time.  By contrast, he’s a perfect 10-0 in Australian Open finals. 

And in the last three years, this tournament has been particularly frustrating for Djokovic.  In 2020, he was disqualified in the fourth round for hitting a linesperson in the neck with a tennis ball.  In 2021, he suffered the aforementioned loss to Medvedev while playing for the Grand Slam.  And in 2022, he was unable to enter the United States due to his vaccination status.

Medvedev is 55-11 in 2023, with five titles (Rotterdam, Doha, Dubai, Miami, Rome).  Four of those titles, all on hard courts, came between February and March of this year.  Daniil’s results had tapered off in recent months, and he uncharacteristically went just 3-2 on North American hard courts heading into this tournament.  But as he often does at hard court Majors, Medvedev built his confidence as the tournament progressed, dropping only three sets through six matches.

Ahead of his semifinal against Alcaraz, Medvedev stated he would have to play “11 out of 10” to defeat Carlitos.  And Daniil did just that, performing at an extremely high level in that match.  He won 82% of his first serve points, and saved eight of the nine break points he faced, showing how well he played the critical points in the match.

Medvedev is 20-13 in ATP finals, and just 1-3 in Major finals.  That includes two soul-crushing five-set losses to Rafael Nadal, and a one-sided straight-set loss to Djokovic, which occurred at the 2021 Australian Open.  Medvedev is yet to play anyone not named Nadal or Djokovic in a Major final.

Novak and Daniil have played 14 times across the last seven seasons, with Djokovic leading their head-to-head 9-5 overall, and 8-4 on hard courts.  At Majors, Novak leads 2-1.  After losing to Medvedev is the final of this event two years ago, Djokovic went on a revenge tour against him, winning their next four encounters.  But Daniil claimed their most recent meeting, six months ago in the semifinals of Dubai.

These are definitively the two best ATP hard court players of the past five years.  Since August of 2018, they have combined to win 34 titles on this surface, with 17 each.  But at this level, there is no comparison.  During that same span, Djokovic has won five hard court Majors, even with missing a few because of vaccine protocols, while Medvedev has procured just one.

On the last day of the 2023 US Open, Novak is the favorite to pick up yet another hard court Major.  And that’s not despite his history in New York, it’s because of it.  After what Djokovic has gone through in recent years at this event, including his 2021 loss to Medvedev, he’ll be exceedingly motivated to reassert his authority on Arthur Ashe Stadium.  And unlike 2021, Novak comes into this match fully fresh, after a straight-set victory over Ben Shelton on Friday. Plus, he’s on an 11-match winning streak, and has won 24 of his last 25 matches, dating back to the start of Roland Garros.  Simply put, Djokovic is currently at the height of his abilities.

And when’s he’s in this kind of form, an extraordinary level is required of his opponents.  No other player can consistently match Novak’s well-rounded skillset, and his superiority reveals itself even more so in the best-of-five format.  Daniil already had to reach an astounding level to advance beyond Alcaraz in the semifinals.  Maintaining that level for a second match in a row, and under the pressure that comes with a Major final, will be an extremely challenging task.  Djokovic will regain the World No.1 ranking on Monday regardless of Sunday’s outcome, but I expect him to do so as a 24-time Major champion.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Andy Murray Makes Retirement Hint After 500th Hard Court Win In Dubai

Andy Murray won his 500th hard court match in Dubai, placing him fifth on the all-time list.

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Andy Murray further hinted at retirement after securing a 500th hard court win of his career in Dubai.

The former world number one picked up his second win of the year with a 4-6 7-6(5) 6-3 victory over Denis Shapovalov.

In typical Andy Murray fashion, the Brit came back from a set down to defeat the out-of-sorts Canadian as he progressed to the second round.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUVj537F-wQ

The win means Murray now has 500 career wins on a hard court and that is an achievement the world number 67 is proud of, “It’s not bad,” Murray told the ATP website as he sits fifth on the all-time list of hard court wins.

“Obviously hard court has been a great surface for me over the years and 500 is a lot of matches so I’m very proud of that. There are not many players that have done that, so great to get to 500 before I’m done.”

However those post-match comments weren’t the most shocking ones as Murray once again hinted at retirement this season.

The Brit has made subtle remarks that this year may be his last one but Murray’s comments today suggests that he may have already made his decision, “I probably don’t have too long left but I’ll do as best as I can these last few months,” Murray was quoted by ESPN as saying.

“I still love competing and still love the game but it gets harder and harder to compete the older you get, to keep your body fit and fresh.”

If the end is near for Murray than the Brit will look to end his career on a high for the next few months.

Before thinking about retirement Murray will look to go further in Dubai when he takes on either Ugo Humbert or Gael Monfils in the second round.

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Perspective And Fatigue: The Two Sides Of Iga Swiatek’s Dubai Defeat

Iga Swiatek spoke about perspective and fatigue after her semi-final exit in Dubai.

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Iga Swiatek showed two sides to her defeat in Dubai as the world number one surprisingly failed to win the title despite being the favourite in the semi-finals.

Heading into her semi-final in Dubai, Swiatek was heavy favourite to win her second consecutive WTA title after claiming the title in Doha the week before.

However Swiatek was unsuccessful in her bid to reach the final as she lost to Anna Kalinskaya 6-4 6-4.

It was a bitterly disappointing defeat for Swiatek who missed a golden opportunity to establish even more dominance ahead of Indian Wells.

As all champions do Swiatek offered perspective to her defeat as she looks ahead to the rest of the season, “I mean, I’m angry but on the other hand, there aren’t many players that actually survive these kinds of tournaments so I just kind of have to let it go and accept it,” Swiatek was quoted by Tennis Majors.

There was not only perspective offered but also fatigue as expectations and pressure can force simple mistakes from the best players in the world.

The world number one acknowledged Kalinskaya’s performance but did admit her own performance contributed to the defeat, “Today I would say, I mean she [Kalinskaya] played well and for sure she deserves to be in the final, but I feel like it was more about me and my level,” Swiatek told Tennis Majors.

“I wanted to be focused on myself and I wasn’t really able to implement any tactics that I had. Usually, when I tell myself what to do, I can improve my game but today I was so out of power and tired that I just couldn’t. Day by day, it was a little bit worse.”

Swiatek will hope to re-energize herself ahead of the sunshine double in America.

Last year Swiatek lost to eventual champion Elena Rybakina in the semi-finals at Indian Wells before withdrawing from Miami.

The Pole will look to improve last year’s performance when she plays Indian Wells, which starts on the 6th of March.

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‘Speechless’ Mensik Reaches Maiden ATP Final In Doha

Jakub Mensik is into his first ATP final in Doha.

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Jakub Mensik admitted he was left speechless after reaching his first ATP final in Doha.

The 18 year-old continued his remarkable week with a 6-4 1-6 6-3 semi-final victory over Gael Monfils.

The Czech Republican produced clinical tennis as he beat the 2018 champion to reach his maiden ATP final.

After the match Mensik admitted he was left ‘speechless’ and spoke about the influence Monfils had on his career, “It is amazing. Hopefully not the last one [final]. Incredible week so far,” Mensik told the ATP website.

“Today again with Gael, he played unbelievable. I know it is tough to play against him, especially with his good movement. For me every point I have to play my best game.

“I have to say this performance was one of the best in my entire life. I am so glad I reached this level in the semis, so hopefully tomorrow I play like this. An amazing feeling with my first ATP final. I am speechless.

“I told him when I was young I watched him a lot on the TV. One of the biggest showman on court. He is a great guy, so hopefully in the future we will meet once again. The rallies were so fun with him.”

Mensik has so far beaten three former champions this week as he also defeated Andy Murray and Andrey Rublev this week.

Now Mensik will aim to win his first ATP title as he takes on Karen Khachanov in Saturday’s final.

Should Mensik win the title he could climb to 75 in the world as he started the week at 116 in the world.

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