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How Medvedev Can Ignite 3-Way Battle For Year-end No. 1 With US Open Win

  • Posted: Sep 09, 2023

How Medvedev Can Ignite 3-Way Battle For Year-end No. 1 With US Open Win

World No. 3 takes on Djokovic in US Open final on Sunday

Is Daniil Medvedev about to crash Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic’s party at the front of the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin?

Medvedev’s US Open semi-final triumph on Friday night against race leader Alcaraz has opened the door for the 27-year-old as he looks to haul in his two rivals. Should Medvedev defeat Djokovic in Sunday’s championship match to claim his second crown at Flushing Meadows, he would move to 7,390 points in the Live Race, within 785 points of Alcaraz in first and 755 of Djokovic in second.

Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin (entering US Open Final)

 Player  Points
 1) Carlos Alcaraz  8,175
 2) Novak Djokovic  8,145
 3) Daniil Medvedev  6,590
 4) Jannik Sinner  4,365
 5) Andrey Rublev  3,640
 6) Stefanos Tsitsipas  3,570
 7) Holger Rune   3,055
 8) Alexander Zverev  3,030
 9) Taylor Fritz  3,010
 10) Casper Ruud  2,625

That would raise the prospect of a three-way battle playing out across the final few months of the season to become ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone. It would also leave Medvedev full of confidence heading into a part of the season in which he has historically excelled.

The World No. 3 is a former champion at the final two ATP Masters 1000 events of the year, the Rolex Shanghai Masters (where Medvedev won in 2019) and the Rolex Paris Masters (2020). He was also the 2020 champion at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he will compete for the fifth consecutive year after sealing his qualification for the prestigious season finale last Monday.

Standing in Medvedev’s way of making his move in New York, of course, is seven-time year-end No. 1 Djokovic. Should the Serbian clinch his record-extending 24th major title on Sunday, he would leapfrog Alcaraz to lead the Live Race and simultaneously open a clear 2,355-point lead on Medvedev.

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Revenge Or Repeat? Djokovic, Medvedev Set For US Open Final Showdown

  • Posted: Sep 09, 2023

Revenge Or Repeat? Djokovic, Medvedev Set For US Open Final Showdown

Duo’s New York clash is rematch of 2021 championship match

There have been 14 previous tour-level meetings between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev, but there may be only one in the back of each player’s mind as they step out Sunday on Arthur Ashe Stadium to compete in the US Open championship match.

Medvedev’s straight-sets victory in the 2021 final at Flushing Meadows is not only remembered as the moment he lifted his maiden major trophy. With his 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win, he also denied Djokovic a historic calendar-year Grand Slam. The 27-year-old is not counting on a similar outcome this time around.

“I think the only way I can use [the 2021 final] is thinking that Novak, when he loses, he’s never the same after. He’s different. It’s just a different mentality,” said Medvedev on Friday night after downing top seed Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals. “That’s why he has 23 Grand Slams, [all those] Masters 1000s and weeks at No. 1.

“So I have to use it knowing that he’s going to be 10 times better than he was that day, and I have to be, if I want to still beat him, 10 times better than I was that day. That’s what I’m going to try to do.”

<a href=Daniil Medvedev” />

Medvedev in action against Carlos Alcaraz on Friday in New York. Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images

After narrowly missing out to Alcaraz in the final at Wimbledon, the calendar-year Grand Slam is not on the line this time around for Djokovic in New York. Yet his triumphs this year at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, which took him past Rafael Nadal to a record 23 major men’s singles titles, have placed him in history-setting territory at every major he enters regardless.

“I understand every time in a Grand Slam final, it’s another shot for history,” said Djokovic after easing past #NextGenATP American Ben Shelton in the semi-finals. “I’m aware of it, and of course I’m very proud of it, but I don’t have much time, nor do I allow myself to reflect on these things or think about the history too much in this sense. When I did that in the past, like the 2021 final here, I was maybe overwhelmed with the occasion and the opportunity, and I underperformed.

“I don’t want this to happen again, and I’ll try to just focus on what needs to be done and tactically prepare myself for that match.”

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Aside from a thrilling five-set comeback win against Laslo Djere in the third round, Djokovic has cruised to his record-equalling 10th US Open final this fortnight without dropping another set. The 36-year-old’s return game has been in particularly fine fettle throughout and appeared to deal with Shelton’s lefty thunderbolts with ease on Friday. Yet Medvedev will still feel his delivery could be the key to getting on top of the Serbian as he looks to improve his 29-5 US Open record.

“I tend to play aggressive, fast, I serve well,” said Medvedev when asked about possible reasons behind his strong showings over the years at Flushing Meadows. “Probably the speed of the court helps me. For example, Indian Wells, that I got to the final was amazing, because I basically can’t hit the ball there. It has nothing to do with my forehand, so I beat some good guys there, some good matches, but as soon as I got someone like Carlos with his style of play, it was kind of over for me.”

Faced with an opponent equally as comfortable settling in for extended rallies, Djokovic may look to exploit Medvedev’s renowned deep returning position by moving forward to try and score quick points. The Serbian has enjoyed success against Medvedev’s unique gamestyle in the past — Djokovic holds a 9-5 Lexus ATP Head2Head series lead against the World No. 3 and has won four of the pair’s five previous tour-level meetings.

Most US Open (Formerly US National Championships) Final Appearances Of All Time

Player US Open Finals
Bill Tilden 10
Novak Djokovic 10
William Larned 9
Pete Sampras 8
Ivan Lendl 8
Bill Johnston 8

Medvedev can look to the most recent of those clashes for confidence, however. The 27-year-old downed the Serbian in straight sets in the Dubai semi-finals in February, a win that came in the midst of a 19-match winning streak on hard courts across February and March. Again, however, Medvedev is wary of a Djokovic hungry for revenge.

“Against Novak, it’s the same. He is always better than the previous time he plays,” said Medvedev, who has only beaten Djokovic in consecutive matches once (Monte-Carlo & Cincinnati, 2019). “For example, I beat him in the US Open final [in 2021]; he beat me in Bercy in a great match. Carlos beat him at Wimbledon; [Novak] beat him in Cincinnati.

“Novak is going to be his best version on Sunday, and I have to be the best-ever version of myself if I want to try to beat him.”

2023 Tour-level Win Leaders On Hard Courts

Player W-L
Daniil Medvedev 38-5
Taylor Fritz 35-10
Jannik Sinner 28-7
Novak Djokovic 26-1
Tommy Paul 26-10
Alex de Minaur 26-11

Djokovic and Medvedev’s focus for Sunday’s final may be taking their final chance for Grand Slam glory this season, but the result will also have big implications for the race to finish as year-end No. 1. If Medvedev triumphs, he will move within 1000 points of both the Serbian and Alcaraz in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, setting up an intriguing three-way battle for the final few months of the season.

Yet preventing Djokovic from winning three majors in a calendar year for the fourth time will be some task: The Serbian, who is guaranteed to usurp No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings from Alcaraz on Monday, enters the match with a 26-1 record at the majors this year.

“I’m obviously over the moon with the results so far on Grand Slams,” said Djokovic. “Playing in all four finals of all four Slams in a season is amazing. 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.

“There is another match left, so of course this conversation will be probably even better if I win the title. But definitely whatever happens, I’m extremely proud and content with what I have achieved this year in Grand Slams.”

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Cervara On Medvedev's Win Over Alcaraz, Deep Return Position & Facing Djokovic

  • Posted: Sep 09, 2023

Cervara On Medvedev’s Win Over Alcaraz, Deep Return Position & Facing Djokovic

Coach speaks exclusively to after US Open semis

Gilles Cervara opened a bite-sized chocolate during the US Open semi-final between his charge, Daniil Medvedev, and defending champion Carlos Alcaraz. The inside of the candy wrapper read “Today is your day”.

That proved prophetic as 2021 titlist Medvedev ousted the top seed in four sets to reach his third US Open final.

“There is the first step in the beginning of the match, like two years ago against Novak [Djokovic] in the final. I was wondering straight away if he could resist Carlos,” Cervara told after Medvedev’s win. “Straightaway I felt that it was that kind of day, that kind of match where you could do it. I’ve seen all the first set, the tie-break, then the second set.

“After I was a bit worried in the third set, when Carlos played amazing. He had amazing moments. But in the first part of the match, I thought that was one of these days where he could do it.”

Medvedev explained after his victory that he felt he had reached a 12 out of 10 with his performance against the Spaniard. “To beat him, you need to be better than yourself and I managed to do it,” he said. Cervara agreed.

“I respect players. They are thinking a lot with the strategy, they have to do it,” Cervara said. “But me as a person and as a coach, and also as a sportsman, I really believe that you have to find something more inside yourself to make your game and your strategy efficient. So, of course, I had to talk [to Daniil] about this invisible part.”

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One of the talking points among fans and experts leading into the match was what Medvedev would do to reverse what happened in the pair’s two Lexus ATP Head2Head matches earlier this season. In those clashes, Alcaraz won all five sets without losing more than three games in any of them.

Medvedev has become known for his ultra-deep return position. Would the World No. 3 change that strategy?

He did not and although Alcaraz took advantage by winning 54 of his 70 net points in the match (77%), Medvedev maintained a high level throughout to triumph.

“First of all, I want to say that he’s able to change his return position. But he would do it if he really feels that he cannot win like this,” Cervara said. “That’s the main thing. And so, it’s tough to be in people’s brains or to understand what they feel. And I think that people don’t understand what he feels, what he sees, what he believes.

“That is even if from our perspective it looks crazy to be where he is standing. For him, he has a totally different perspective, different vision of the court, of his movement. That’s all.”

Cervara remembers a specific moment during his first year as Medvedev’s coach. The Frenchman created an exercise to work on his player’s return in order to make his position lower and closer to the baseline.

“He said to me one thing. ‘But if I do this, I don’t feel that I can push,’” Cervara recalled. “And when he said this, I was like, ‘Okay, I understand that.’ I have to take care of his feeling. Because if I don’t do it, I’m going to destroy him.”

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It was important for Medvedev to feel he had the ability to push with his legs into the return.

“And then also because he feels that like this, he can put the ball back. Running after his return is important for him to build his game also,” Cervara said. “So yeah, it’s a mental and neuronal configuration in the brain. It’s working.”

As thrilling as Medvedev’s performance against Alcaraz was, he is not holding the trophy yet. He needs to beat 23-time major winner Novak Djokovic in the final to earn it. Two years ago, Medvedev halted the Serbian’s pursuit of history in the US Open final. Djokovic was trying to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors in the same year.

What does Cervara remember most from that championship clash?

“I think right now the first thing is probably the last game, how tough the last game was for me. And the moment he won the title,” Cervara said.

The Frenchman explained that the challenges of facing Alcaraz and Djokovic are different.

“They are different people, different players. So everything will be different,” Cervara said. “We are going to talk about this of course.”

Djokovic leads Medvedev 9-5 in their Lexus ATP Head2Head, but Medvedev won their most recent clash in this year’s Dubai semi-finals. That remains the Serbian’s lone hard-court loss of the season (26-1).

“I think we are going to talk about many matches for sure because we have to be ready for different things,” Cervara said. “In two days it’s going to be again a tough one, and such an important one.”

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Danilina/Heliovaara Claim US Open Mixed Doubles Crown

  • Posted: Sep 09, 2023

Danilina/Heliovaara Claim US Open Mixed Doubles Crown

Scratch pair dropped just one set en route to trophy in New York

They had not met until two weeks ago, but that did not stop Anna Danilina and Harri Heliovaara from charging to US Open mixed doubles glory this fortnight in New York.

The scratch pairing downed top seeds Austin Krajicek and Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday to lift the trophy at the hard-court Grand Slam. Each became a major champion for the first time.

“We stayed here for a long time, three weeks in New York. But it was worth it, every minute,” said Heliovaara, the Finn who is No. 25 in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings. “Happy to lift the trophy… I have to thank my partner. She is the reason we’re standing here. I didn’t know you two weeks ago, but now I know you very well. Thank you very much Anna.”

“I have no words,” said Kazakhstan’s WTA star Danilina, who was playing in her second major championship match after reaching the Australian Open women’s doubles final in 2022. “It was an amazing run. I don’t know what to say, it’s been a pleasure. To many more.”

Danilina and Heliovaara were sharp on return throughout the 72-minute final on Arthur Ashe Stadium. They broke Krajicek’s serve in the second game of the match and completed their win having converted three of six break points they earned.

Their triumph against home favourites Pegula and Krajicek capped a near-perfect campaign in New York for Danilina and Heliovaara, who only dropped one set across their five matches at Flushing Meadows.

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Medvedev: 'I Need To Be Best-Ever Version Of Myself' Against Djokovic

  • Posted: Sep 09, 2023

Medvedev: ‘I Need To Be Best-Ever Version Of Myself’ Against Djokovic

2021 champion reflects on win against Alcaraz, looks ahead to facing Djokovic

Daniil Medvedev was happy with his performance Friday evening when he ousted defending champion Carlos Alcaraz to reach the US Open final. But the 2021 titlist knows the job is not done.

“I said I need to play 11 out of 10, all three sets I won I managed to do it. In the third set I would say I was maybe nine and a half, maybe 10 out of 10, and as we saw it was not enough against Carlos,” Medvedev said. “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.”

Medvedev now faces the man whom he stunned at Flushing Meadows two years ago for his first major championship: Novak Djokovic. The Serbian eliminated American Ben Shelton earlier in the day.

“Against Novak, it’s the same. He is always better than previous time he plays. For example, I beat him in the US Open final, he beat me in Bercy in a great match. Carlos beat him at Wimbledon, he beat him in Cincinnati,” Medvedev said. “Novak is going to be his best version on Sunday, and I have to be the best-ever version of myself if I want to try to beat him.”

In the 2021 final, Djokovic was trying to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors in the same season. Instead, Medvedev sent him off the court with a straight-sets defeat. But Medvedev is expecting a much better version of Djokovic this time around.

“Novak, when he loses, he’s never the same after. So he’s different. It’s just a different mentality. That’s why he has 23 Grand Slams, [39 ATP] Masters 1000s, weeks at No. 1,” Medvedev said. “So I have to use it knowing that he’s going to be 10 times better than he was that day. And I have to be, if I want to still beat him, 10 times better than I was that day. That’s what I’m going to try to do.”

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Medvedev entered the semi-finals in New York having lost all five sets he played against Alcaraz this year. The third seed found his best tennis to change the momentum in their Lexus ATP Head2Head.

“I guess for the confidence and self-esteem, it’s very important. At the same time that’s the thing about tennis. It’s great that I won this match, but if I lose on Sunday, the tournament, it’s a good tournament, but I’m going to be disappointed. That’s how tennis is,” Medvedev said. “It was a great win, it’s great for the confidence. I have hopefully [many] years of career ahead. And to know I’m capable of doing it on the big stage, every time you do it one more time brings more confidence.

“You know you can do it again. You want to do it again. You want to feel this. And at the same time, what is the most important is to kind of use it, but forget about it and go for the next one.”

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One thing Medvedev will hope to carry with him into the final is his serving level. The 27-year-old won 82 per cent of his first-serve points against Alcaraz.

“Against someone like Carlos you have to serve well. You have no other choice. If he’s all over your serve, he’s all over you in a way,” Medvedev said. “I managed to hit some good serves, to hit some good zones, to mix it up in important moments. We can call it lucky second serves, because when you go for it, there is part of luck. But you also take the risk, which if you’re lucky, this risk can pay off. Today was great, so as I said, it has to be the same on Sunday.”

Medvedev will now try to mentally reset knowing that upsetting the defending champion was not enough to lift the trophy. He has one more big hurdle, a 23-time major winner, to overcome.

“You want to fight ’til the end, you want to win,” Medvedev said. “And that’s how you should be in the final of a Grand Slam.”

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Candid Carlos: 'I Couldn't Find Solutions'

  • Posted: Sep 09, 2023

Candid Carlos: ‘I Couldn’t Find Solutions’

Spaniard will surrender World No. 1 mantle to Djokovic on Monday

Carlos Alcaraz has been described by many tennis experts as the most complete player they have ever seen for a 20-year-old.

But after failing to stop a red-hot Daniil Medvedev in the US Open semi-finals Friday night, the Spaniard says there is still work to do.

“He played a really, really great game. I couldn’t find solutions,” Alcaraz said. “I thought that right now I am a better player [who can] find solutions when the match is not going in the right direction for you. But after this match, I’m going to change my mind. I’m not mature enough to handle these kind of matches. So I have to learn from that.”

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Brutal honesty, indeed. Alcaraz seemed to have the right game plan early in the match, winning his first 18 net approaches as he looked to exploit Medvedev’s deep-court position, especially on the return of serve. But his net game deserted him in the first-set tie-break and then in the second he couldn’t find the answers to halt Medvedev’s charge.

Alcaraz hit 45 winners to Medvedev’s 38, but the 2021 US Open champion largely won the day in baseline exchanges. Alcaraz came to net 70 times – exactly double his net approaches against Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals – but even winning 77 per cent of those points was not enough.

Medvedev certainly took the honours on serve, firing nine aces to none and winning 82 per cent of first-serve points to Alcaraz’s 69 per cent.

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“He played with more speed in his shots. I think the running forehand was great today,” Alcaraz said. “Probably with the slice in the previous matches helped me a lot to find my own game, but today I couldn’t.

“He found great directions with his shots, no mistakes, great serve today. 10 out of 10, as he said… He’s one of the best returners on the Tour. That obviously is amazing how he can return from the back of the court really deep and really powerful. When I do serve and volley, he always finds the passing shot from from his house (laughter).”

On Monday Alcaraz will surrender No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings to Novak Djokovic, who will begin his 390th week in top spot. However, the Spaniard will retain a razor-thin lead over the Serbian in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin if the 36-year-old falls to Medvedev in Sunday’s title match.

The Race determines which eight players qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, but it also serves as an indicator of which player will finish the year World No. 1.

Alcaraz finishes his Grand Slam season having won his maiden Wimbledon title and having reached semi-finals at Roland Garros and the US Open. He missed the Australian Open through injury.

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Medvedev Ousts Alcaraz, Sets Djokovic US Open Final Rematch

  • Posted: Sep 09, 2023

Medvedev Ousts Alcaraz, Sets Djokovic US Open Final Rematch

Third seed advances to third final at Flushing Meadows

Daniil Medvedev reminded the world on Friday evening that when he is at his best, he has the game to beat anyone on the planet. The third seed ousted defending champion Carlos Alcaraz 7-6(3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the US Open final.

The 27-year-old set a rematch of the 2021 Flushing Meadows final against Novak Djokovic. Two years ago, Medvedev stunned Djokovic and denied the Serbian his dream of winning all four majors in the same season. On Sunday, he will try to keep Djokovic from securing a record-extending 24th Slam title.

“The challenge is to play a guy who won 23 Grand Slams and I have only one,” Medvedev said in his on-court interview. “When I beat him here, I managed to play better than myself and I need to do it again. There is no other way.”

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Medvedev explained after his quarter-final win over Andrey Rublev that he needed an “11 out of 10” performance to defeat Alcaraz, and that is what he accomplished, saving eight of the nine break points he faced to triumph after three hours and 18 minutes and reach his third championship clash in New York.

“I said I needed to play 11 out of 10. I played 12 out of 10, except the third set,” Medvedev said. “That’s the only way. I don’t know if he’s still 20 or 21, but [he is] so young, already two Grand Slams, World No. 1 for many weeks. It’s honestly just pretty unbelievable and I think nobody has done it before him. To beat him, you need to be better than yourself and I managed to do it.”

Medvedev entered the semi-finals having lost his past two Lexus ATP Head2Head meetings against Alcaraz this season. The Spaniard won all five sets they played in those clashes and did not lose more than three games in any of those sets.

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But that did not seem to bother Medvedev, who produced a nearly flawless performance inside Arthur Ashe Stadium and kept his opponent from earning the first two-set comeback of his career. Alcaraz is 9-1 in five-setters and 5-0 at Flushing Meadows, but the 20-year-old was unable to push it into a deciding set against Medvedev, who is 4-9 in fifth sets.

It had been a subpar North American hard-court summer by the 27-year-old’s standards, losing in the quarter-finals in Toronto and the third round in Cincinnati. But the third seed has found his best tennis at the season’s final major and is now a Tour-leading 38-5 on hard courts this year with four titles on the surface (Rotterdam, Doha, Dubai, Miami).

Medvedev did not allow the hype around a potential Djokovic-Alcaraz championship match to break his focus. Medvedev showed great intensity in his footwork and his ball-striking, especially off the forehand wing. That kept the top seed from dictating with as much comfort as usual, leading to errors in key moments. 

With Tom Brady, Kevin Durant and Charlize Theron headlining the celebrities watching from the crowd, there was little to separate Medvedev and Alcaraz in the first set. But in the tie-break, Alcaraz hit a poor drop volley, allowing Medvedev to chase down a forehand and earn the ultimately decisive mini-break.

Alcaraz was unable to reset in time to start off the second set well. Despite consistently taking advantage of his opponent’s deep court positioning early by moving forward, the Spaniard hit a forehand drop shot into the net to relinquish an immediate break and was never able to earn it back. Everything was going right for Medvedev, who claimed another break with an incredible one-handed backhand stab on the full stretch. World feed commentator Robbie Koenig called a “moment of magic”.

But Alcaraz did not go down without a fight. The reigning Wimbledon titlist broke serve for the first time in the match at 2-1 and was able to make that advantage hold. The defending champion continued moving forward as Medvedev continued to play deep in the court.

The 20-year-old won 13 of 15 net points in the third set compared to four of 13 for Medvedev. Alcaraz moved forward with authority and in control of points, while his opponent often ended up at the wrong end of booming passing shots.

“The third set was not so bad, I lost one serve. I didn’t have a lot of opportunities on his serve, but I felt like I was not that far. So I was like, ‘I have to continue pushing. I have to do a little bit better on my serve.’ I saved some break points at 1-all. There was a very crucial, super-long game where I managed to do some amazing points to stay in the game and then he kind of — maybe we don’t see him do this often — he started to miss a little bit. Yeah, amazing.”

As Medvedev continued to return from far behind the baseline, Alcaraz consistently served and volleyed, showing exceptional skill in the forecourt. But Medvedev finally forced a net mistake from his opponent to break for 4-2.

After an emphatic love hold to move within one game of victory, Medvedev needed to claw to the finish line. Alcaraz conjured more magic to earn three break points in the final game of the match, but the 2021 champion refused to be denied.

Did You Know?
Alcaraz will relinquish No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings to Djokovic on Monday. However, if Medvedev defeats Djokovic in the US Open final, Alcaraz will maintain a 30-point lead in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.

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