US Open Day 12: Medvedev masterminds Alcaraz

The 2021 champion reunites with history-chasing Novak Djokovic in the silverware showdown.

Daniil Medvedev / Demi-finales US Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Three US Open champions and an American Next Gen superstar. The men's semi-finals were a blockbuster billing.

Daniil Medvedev and Novak Djokovic found the answers under the lights on a raucous Arthur Ashe Stadium. Here’s the tale of a special NYC night...

Medvedev rips up the script

Before this titanic clash, Daniil Medvedev claimed his needed to compete at an "11 out of 10" level to defeat world No.1 Carlos Alcaraz. He served up a 12.

Remember, the 27-year-old didn't win more than three games per set against the Spaniard in straight-sets dismissals in the Indian Wells final and the Wimbledon last four earlier this season.

The sporting world was already pitching an Alcaraz vs Djokovic final on Sunday. Daniil the disruptor tore up that script on Friday night with a pulsating 7-6(3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 victory to end Alcaraz's title defence.

“I said I needed to play 11 out of 10. I played 12 out of 10, except the third set," said Medvedev.

"In the third set I would say I was maybe 9 1/2, maybe 10 out of 10, and as we saw it was not enough against Carlos.

"I managed to play well, I managed to serve well, hit some lines in important moments, some great shots. Just really happy, but the tournament is not over."

Daniil Medvedev / Demi-finales US Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Medvedev snatched away the opener with an electric run of points in the tie-break and stamped his authority on the contest with three holds to love in an exhibition second set.

One backhand pass, screeching along the baseline to flick the ball past Alcaraz's athletic lunge, was the hot-shot highlight that portrayed Medvedev is back to the peak of his powers in New York.

His cunning play, altering court position, nullified the threat of Alcaraz, until an inevitable surge from the Spaniard. The 2022 champion connected with a catalogue of scorching shots to extend to a fourth set.

Alcaraz went for broke, dinked drop shots and plenty of net play (the 20-year-old finished on 31/42 on serve and volley, as well as 54/70 success rate at net.)

Even with those numbers Medvedev found the targets and held his nerve in an absorbing seven-deuce game for a 4-2 break lead.

"This game was absolutely amazing," said Medvedev, who also had to finish the job by erasing three break points whilst serving out victory.

"Every time he had these game points, I was saying to myself, 'I can win this game. I can win this game.'

"I managed to hit some amazing points. We were both pumping up the crowd because the points were unbelievable. When I won it, I was, like, 'Let's go, try to finish the match.' I managed to do it."

Alcaraz, chalking up a semi-final run at Roland-Garros and champion fortnight at Wimbledon, is adamant he’ll learn from another major battle royale.

"He found great directions with his shots, no mistakes, great serve today. So I think he played his game, 10 out of 10, that he say, so he was great today," said a gracious Alcaraz.

"Here I am a better player to find solutions when the match is not going in the right direction for you. But after this match, I gonna change my mind. I'm not mature enough to handle these kind of matches. So, I have to learn about it."

Dialled in Djoko downs Shelton

In his 100th US Open singles match, Novak Djokovic kept defying his age and the 'Next Gen' contingent to dismiss American youngster Ben Shelton 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(4).

The Serbian moves one step from a men's record extending 24th Grand Slam trophy with his 10th US Open final at Flushing Meadows.

The third set was a microcosm of Djokovic's all-time greatness.

4-2 up Djokovic, returning to world No.1 spot on Monday, was cruising towards the finishing line, but college tennis alumni Shelton dug in and caused all sorts of problems with his raw power.

The 20-year-old restored parity at 4-4, the home crowd roared on their prodigy, but Djokovic was a wall of defiance, staving off set point, then he got broken by the American for a nail-biting tie-break.

Some jaw-dropping volleys and steely shots prompted the Serbian to finger-wag 'No.1' to the crowd. He's more than happy to play the role of villain. Djokovic even replicated Shelton's 'phone call' celebration following match point.

"These are the types of matches I thrive on,” said Djokovic. “The ones that inspire me to keep working as hard as the young guys.

"Great to be able to win in straight sets. Quite close ending to the match with crowd getting involved. So of course it wasn't easy.

"Obviously I knew that he's got a lot of firepower. He has an amazing pop on the serve, he's just so dynamic and very unpredictable what comes next.

"I just had to stay there mentally, present, calm, and focus on the game plan, which for most of the match I have done and kind of made him play, made him uncomfortable."

Four Grand Slams in 2023, four final appearances for the world No.2, posting a gladiatorial 26-1 major record this campaign thus far.

"I'm obviously over the moon with the results so far on Grand Slams. It's the highest achievement I can think about when I start the season. That's what I dream about, that's what I really wanted, that's where I want to be, in this kind of position."

It’s the third time in the Serbian's 'Hall of Fame' career he's reached all four major finals in a calendar year, with 2015 and 2021 his two other ultra-consistent Grand Slam seasons.

Novak Djokovic / Demi-finales US Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT