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Medvedev plays ’12 out of 10′ to take out Alcaraz

Daniil Medvedev predicted he would need to play “11 out of 10” to get past defending champion and top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz at the US Open.

How did Medvedev rate his performance against Alcaraz in the semifinals Friday night?

“I played 12 out of 10,” Medvedev declared after eliminating Alcaraz 7-6 (3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to set up a rematch in the final against Novak Djokovic, a 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (4) winner over unseeded American Ben Shelton earlier Friday.

The No. 3-seeded Medvedev won his lone major championship at Flushing Meadows in 2021 by defeating 23-time Slam winner Djokovic in that year’s title match. That prevented Djokovic from completing what would have been the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s tennis since 1969.

Even before the start of these two weeks, folks had been anticipating a Djokovic vs. Alcaraz showdown for the title. Theirs is an intergenerational rivalry — Djokovic is 36, Alcaraz 20 — that has fascinated the tennis world in recent months.

A meeting in New York on Sunday would have been a rematch of the final of the Cincinnati Masters last month, won by Djokovic, of the final at Wimbledon in July, won by Alcaraz, and of a semifinal at the French Open in June, won by Djokovic.

But it was not to be.

Medvedev stood in the way.

“These kind of matches can happen,” Alcaraz said.

Alcaraz, who will relinquish the No. 1 ranking to Djokovic no matter what happens Sunday, had been trying to become the first man to claim consecutive championships in New York since Roger Federer won five in a row from 2004 to 2008.

He spoke days earlier about his growth over the past year and how much more mature he has become.

“After this match, I’m going to change my mind,” Alcaraz said. “I’m not mature enough.”

So instead, it will be Medvedev, a 27-year-old from Russia, who will be appearing in his third US Open final in five years and his fifth major title match in all.

He lost to Rafael Nadal in New York in 2019 and at the Australian Open in 2022 and to Djokovic at the Australian Open in 2021.

“The challenge is that you play a guy that won 23 Grand Slams, and I have only one,” Medvedev said, looking ahead to taking on Djokovic. “When I beat him here, I managed to play better than myself, so I need to do it again. There is no other way.”

Medvedev had lost to Alcaraz twice this season, including in the Wimbledon semifinals. Those head-to-head results left Medvedev concerned.

Daniil Medvedev and Novak Djokovic split both meetings this season, and Sunday will be their first in a major since the 2021 US Open final, which Medvedev won to end Djokovic’s calendar Grand Slam pursuit.

“Before the match, for sure, a lot of doubts,” he said.

But Medvedev was up to the task, defeating a world No. 1 for the sixth time — the only active players with more wins over ATP No. 1s are Nadal (23), Djokovic (16) and Andy Murray (12) — and continuing his unparalleled success on hard court. Since the start of 2018, nobody has recorded more match wins (235), final appearances (28) and titles (18) on hard courts than Medvedev.

He stood way back to return serves and would conjure up passing shots “from his house,” Alcaraz observed with a smile, noting that Medvedev hit his forehand harder than usual.

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