US Open: Novak Djokovic fights back to beat Matteo Berrettini and enter semis

Novak Djokovic is now just two wins shy of completing the calendar-year Grand Slam, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in men’s tennis in more than half a century.

Novak Djokovic in a file photo; Credit: Twitter/@DjokerNole

Novak Djokovic fought back from a set down to beat Matteo Berrettini 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 and move into the US Open semi-finals on Wednesday. The Serb is now just two wins away from a record 21st major that would complete a calendar-year Grand Slam. In the next round, he will face Alexander Zverev, the German who last month ended the No. 1 seed’s bid for a ‘Golden Slam’ by beating him in the Tokyo Olympics semi-finals. At Arthur Ashe Stadium, in a rematch of July’s Wimbledon final, Djokovic improved to 4-0 in his rivalry with Berrettini, who was chasing his third Slam semi-final after the 2019 US Open and his career-best Wimbledon runner-up effort.

The 34-year-old Serb is looking to become the first man to win all four major titles in the same year since Rod Laver in 1969. He also seeks his fourth US Open title and a men’s record 21st title which will take him one step ahead of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, both absent with injuries.

Berrettini’s impressive serving helped him to a break in the first set, but he squandered three set points before the Serb hit a forehand wide to lose the opener. However, from there, Djokovic began to dominate as he produced just 11 unforced errors across the next three sets and closed out the match in style.

“Really tough match, as always against Novak, He has this ability — and probably that’s why he’s the best ever — just to step up his game, his level all the time” said Berrettini.

“Doesn’t matter how well I play, he just plays better. He doesn’t give me any free points. I have to earn every single point,” he continued.

“Going to be a battle” against Zverev

Meanwhile, No. 4 seed Zverev reached his fourth career Slam semi-final by beating South Africa’s Lloyd Harris 7-6 (8/6), 6-3, 6-4. The German was down a set point in his opening tie-breaker before Harris sent two forehands long and Zverev smashed a service winner to take the first set.

The 24-year-old German broke Harris for a 2-0 lead in the second set and took control from there. In the third set, Zverev broke the South African in the first and third games and won after two hours and six minutes with his 21st ace of the match.

“He’s in a fantastic form, Of course looking at his results in past few years, he’s played very well here on this court,” said Djokovic when asked about his next round match.

“I know it’s going to be battle, even harder than it was today but I’m ready for it. Look, these are the hurdles that I need to overcome in order to get to the desired destination.”

Sportslumo Desk

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