World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev upset No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz in the US Open Friday evening and has advanced to face Novak Djokovic in the men's final on Sunday. This will be a repeat of the 2021 final, when Medvedev took down the Serbian veteran in straight sets.
That was the tournament in which Medvedev earned his lone Grand Slam title. Djokovic, meanwhile, will be looking for his 24th major trophy.
Medvedev failed to defend his title last year after losing to Nick Kyrgios in the Round of 16, but he has clearly moved on from that disappointing result. He had struggled against Alcaraz in their two previous matches this year, but Medvedev beat the young Spanish star 7-6 (7-3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 on Friday evening.
Djokovic, currently ranked No. 2 in the world, won the first semifinal of the night by taking down unseeded American Ben Shelton 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4). The veteran already won the US Open in 2011, 2015 and 2018, but he is nowhere near slowing down as he gets ready for his 36th career Grand Slam final.
Friday's win also helped Djokovic reached the final of all four Grand Slams in one season for the third time in his career, with the other two happening in 2015 and 2021.
No. 2 Novak Djokovic def. Ben Shelton 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4)
Shelton had been the the youngest American man to reach the semifinals of the US Open since Michael Chang in 1992. Falling to Djokovic means the US has gone another year without a man winning a Grand Slam title since Andy Roddick in 2003, or reached a final since 2009.
Djokovic took control early in the match and won the last four games of the second set. It seemed like he had the third in the bag but Shelton wanted to go down swinging and made it a true battle at the end. The American rising star turned heads with a 149 mph serve earlier in the tournament, but he had played more conservatively against Djokovic.
Shelton finally registered a 145 mph serve in the third set and fought hard enough to force a tiebreak. Unfortunately for him, his opponent was a veteran who knows how to keep his composure. Djokovic entered this tiebreak with a 24-5 record and added another win against the young American.
"These are the kind of matches and occasions that I still thrive on. They still get me going and inspire me to wake up and work hard like the young guys," said Djokovic during his on-court interview. "Grand Slams are the occasions that motivate me the most to play my best tennis."
"I've been blessed to really play this sport for so many years, and I've achieved a lot but I still feel I have something in my legs left. I still feel I have something to give to the sport."
No. 3 Daniil Medvedev def. No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz 7-6 (7-3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
Medvedev lost to Alcaraz at the Indian Wells final and Wimbledon semifinals earlier this year, but he made some adjustments and started Friday's match strong.
The first set went to a tiebreak, and Medvedev came out victorious to win his first set against Alcaraz in 2023. He kept the momentum going and won the first three games of the second set.
It seemed he was going to win a fourth consecutive one but Alcaraz pushed back to win one. Medvedev didn't let that shake him and went on to take the set 6-1, which put him in a good spot as he had been 25-0 after wining the first two sets at the US Open. Meanwhile, Alcaraz had never come back from two sets down to win.
Alcaraz took a bathroom break and might have given himself a pep talk because he went on to win the third set. The fourth one was very competitive. Medvedev found a 4-2 lead after a game that took about 12 minutes. He then quickly won the next one, but Alcaraz made the last one very difficult finding the advantage a few times.
"Amazing, especially beating someone like Carlos," Medvedev said on the court when asked what it meant to be back in the US Open final. "I lost to two times easy against him this year, so before the match for sure there were a lot of doubts."
"I said I needed to play 11 out of 10. I played 12 out of 10 except the third set. That's the only way ... To beat him, you need to be better than yourself."