27 matches down, one to go. Novak Djokovic doesn’t want to talk about it but he is just one game away from tennis immortality.
When the history-chasing Serbian takes to the court in the US Open final at Flushing Meadows on Sunday, he knows that if he can overcome Daniil Medvedev then not only will he land a record-equalling 21st title, he will also become the first man to win all four majors in the same year since Rod Laver in 1969.
Only five people in history have ever won a ‘Calendar Slam’ - the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open in the same year. For the men, Don Budge (1938) and Rob Laver (1962 and 1969) achieved this incredible feat and for the women, Maureen Connolly Brinker (1953), Margaret Court (1970) and Steffi Graf (1988).
In fact, given that the Open Era only began in 1968, where professionals could enter the same events as amateurs, victory in New York for the three-time US Open winner means he would replicate what only Graf has done before.
Djokovic stands on the brink of an incredible slice of history but the 34-year-old made it clear in the aftermath of his five-set win over Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals that he doesn’t want to be burdened by what’s on the line for him.
“I’m going for a fourth US Open, that’s all I’m thinking about,” he said.
“I know that people would like to hear me talk about it, but there is not much to talk about. There’s only one match left. All in, all in. Let’s do it. I’m going to put my heart and my soul and my head into that one. I’m going to treat my next match like it is the last match of my career.”
The world number one isn’t the only man looking to make his mark in the Big Apple this weekend though, with Russian second seed Medvedev in imperious form, having dropped just a single set in a pretty much trouble-free run to the final. Djokovic likewise has won just one of his ties in straight sets.
If he pulls off a monumental upset, it will be a case of third time lucky in Grand Slam finals for the 25-year-old, having been beaten by Rafael Nadal in the US Open in 2019 and by Sunday’s opponent in the Australian Open back in February. There’s no question that Medvedev’s stock has been steadily rising over the last few years but the Moscow-born star has never beaten Djokovic over five sets and will need to put in the performance of his life to stop one of tennis’ greatest ever stars.
Djokovic is unsurprisingly the heavy betting favourite at 4/11 with Betfred, while Medvedev is currently 2/1. If the great Serbian wins like he’s expected, it will be a remarkable moment in the sport’s history.
27 down, one to go...