Tennis: Djokovic thanks fans after breaking record
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Novak Djokovic is two matches away from making tennis history. If he wins in his next two outings to win the US Open, he will become the first male player since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete the Calendar Grand Slam – winning all four major tournaments in the same year.
After successes at the Australian Open, the French Open and at Wimbledon, the world number one needs to claim one more success in New York to become only the second man to complete the feat in the open era of tennis.
Djokovic beat Matteo Berrettini in the last eight, and now standing in his way of a place in the final is Alexander Zverev.
The young German is the man who denied the 20-time Grand Slam a shot at the Golden Slam – winning all four majors and a gold medal at the Olympic Games – by beating him at the last four stage in Tokyo.
Djokovic will have revenge for that defeat as a motivator, as well as the prospect of moving within one win of the Calendar Slam.
Zverev has never beaten the Serb in a best of five sets match, losing at the Australian Open earlier this year and also at the 2019 French Open on the only two previous Grand Slam meetings between the pair.
Still, Djokovic knows he will have to be at the top of his game if he is to extend that streak over the 24-year-old.
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“He’s in tremendous form, he’s been winning a lot. After Wimbledon I don’t think he’s lost a match,” the world number one said.
“Winning gold in the Olympics, winning in Cincinnati pretty comfortably, he moved into the semi-finals here… We played a month ago in Tokyo. I was a set and a break up and he managed to turn that around.
“[It’s the] semi-finals of a Grand Slam right now, he’s one of the best players in the world and I’m pumped. The bigger the challenge the more glory in overcoming it.”
Djokovic secured his 80th career win at Flushing Meadows with his quarter-final victory over Berrettini, but had to come from behind after going a set down to the man he beat in the Wimbledon final earlier this summer.
But the Serb produced “the best three sets I’ve played so far” and dramatically reduced the number of errors he was making to ensure he kept his Calendar Slam dream alive.
He said: “This was a great match, with a lot of energy on and off the court. Matteo is a terrific player and every time we face each other it’s a close battle.
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“When I lost the first set I managed to forget about it and move on. I was locked in at the start of the second and it was the best three sets I’ve played so far.”
Meanwhile, Zverev is hopeful he can repeat his Olympics feat and overcome Djokovic once again.
“Winning [in Tokyo] against the world number one, especially as I was down a set and a break, being kind of out of the match, then coming back, it was different than the other matches,” he said. “The emotions were different.
“This year it seems like nobody can beat him in a big match, nobody can beat him at the Grand Slams.
“I feel like I was the first player to beat him in a very big match this year. That does give you something.”
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