'Wow': Fans lose it over Novak Djokovic's epic US Open act

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Pictured here, Novak Djokovic roars in delight after winning his US Open semi-final.
Novak Djokovic roars in delight after winning through to the US Open final. Pic: Getty

Novak Djokovic is now just one win away from a historic 21st major title and the first men's calendar year Grand Slam since 1969 after outlasting German Alexander Zverev in a thrilling five-set US Open semi-final victory.

If Djokovic does become the first man since Australia's Rod Laver to win all four majors in the same year, he, and everyone else, will remember one particularly pivotal, and epic, game along the way.

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It came at the conclusion of the third set of what eventually became a 4-6 6-2 6-4 4-6 6-2 victory over Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Zverev, making Djokovic 27-0 in major championships this season.

The game featured one extended exchange after another, including a 53-shot, minute-plus point that was the longest of the tournament and actually was lost by Djokovic on a forehand winner by Zverev.

The 21,139 spectators inside Arthur Ashe Stadium rose in unison at the conclusion of the remarkable exchange.

But that one outcome didn't matter. They never seem to with Djokovic, especially in best-of-five-set matches on his sport's most prestigious stages. As usual, he used his superb returning and never-take-a-rest defence to wear down Zverev.

Djokovic, who has spent more weeks at No. 1 in the ATP rankings than anyone, figures out what is required to emerge on top and does it. In each of his past four matches - and 10 in all at the Slams this year - he trailed by a set and won.

Beating world No.2 Daniil Medvedev on Sunday will allow Djokovic to secure two significant milestones.

He would add the 2021 US Open trophy to those he won at the Australian Open in February, French Open in June and Wimbledon in July.

And the 34-year-old from Serbia would collect his 21st Slam title in all, breaking the men's career mark he currently shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

He also equaled Federer on Friday by getting to a 31st career Slam final; Djokovic's total now includes a record nine in New York.

Tennis fans were understandably left in awe at the Serb's latest feat, with many already anointing him the greatest player of all time, regardless of what happens in the final.

Novak Djokovic to face Daniil Medvedev in final 

Standing in the way of Djokovic's quest for history is Russian third seed Medvedev, who eliminated 12th-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 in the earlier semi-final.

Medvedev was defeated by Djokovic in this year's Australian Open final and by Nadal in the 2019 US Open final.

"The more you lose something, the more you want to win it. The more you want to gain it and take it," said Medvedev, who has lost only one set over the past two weeks. 

"I lost two finals. I want to win the third one."

Seen here, Daniil Medvedev celebrates his semi-final win over Felix Auger-Aliassime at the US Open.
Daniil Medvedev survived a second set scare to crush Felix Auger-Aliassime in their US Open semi-final. Pic: Getty

Djokovic is trying to go four from four at the majors over the course of one season, something last done in men's tennis by Laver 52 years ago.

It was also done by Laver in 1962 and Don Budge in 1938.

Three women have completed what's known as a true Grand Slam, most recently Steffi Graf in 1988. Serena Williams' attempt in 2015 ended at the U.S. Open with a semifinal loss to Roberta Vinci.

As Friday night's semifinal unfolded, the 81-year-old Laver literally was looking over Djokovic's shoulder, seated front and centre behind a baseline in the President's Box at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

with AAP

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