Novak Djokovic came to within a single match victory of completing the most prestigious accomplishment in tennis with a five-set triumph over Alexander Zverev of Germany on Friday night.
In addition to winning the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon this year, and eliminating his first opponents at the U.S. Open, Djokovic now needs to defeat only Daniil Medvedev of Russia in Sunday’s final to become the first man in 52 years to win all four major tournaments in the same calendar year as a single calendar year.
And he did it in spectacular fashion, coming from behind to win the first set and then weathering an assault from an opponent who seemed to have Djokovic’s number for a little period of time. Despite pushing Djokovic to play five sets in a row in a gruelling 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory, Zverev came up just short, and the razor-thin margin only served to increase the mystery surrounding Djokovic’s Grand Slam chances in 2021.
Djokovic would also win his 21st major championship, breaking a tie with Roger Federer for the most major titles in history. This puts him at the same level as his two most formidable opponents, Switzerland’s Roger Federer and Spain’s Rafael Nadal, both of whom did not compete in this year’s United States Open.
Djokovic, 34, already has 337 weeks as the world’s top-ranked player under his belt, which is a world record. 2011 and 2015 were his prior US Open victories, while 2018 was his first.
On Sunday, Djokovic will face off against Medvedev in a matchup that will go down in history. With 20 career Grand Slam championships, he is tied with his fiercest competitors, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, for the most in the sport’s history. Djokovic is eager to win this tournament in order to seal his reputation as the greatest player of all time. However, it is possible that the race may continue for many more years. For the time being, though, it is very difficult to think that Federer and Nadal, who are both dealing with the effects of ageing and injuries, would manage to win a calendar-year Grand Slam. It is the item that would cement Djokovic’s position as the most dominant of the Big Three for all time.