Carlos Alcaraz had his reign as US Open champion ended by Daniil Medvedev as the Russian set up another New York final against Novak Djokovic.
The Spanish top seed lost 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 3-6 6-3 to Medvedev, ensuring there will be no repeat of the Wimbledon final between Alcaraz and Djokovic.
Djokovic swatted aside young American Ben Shelton to move within one more win of a record-equalling 24th major title.
The Serb, 36, won 6-3 6-2 7-6 (7-4) to close in on Margaret Court’s tally.
Alcaraz, 20, prevented Djokovic levelling Court when they met at the All England Club in July and Russian third seed Medvedev, who won his sole major at Flushing Meadows two years ago, could do the same on Sunday.
Medvedev regained his composure in a tense finish to serve out victory, taking a fourth match point to win a captivating contest which left most of the 24,000 crowd on Arthur Ashe Stadium on their feet.
Djokovic lost to Medvedev in the 2021 final and was not allowed to enter the United States for last year’s tournament because he was unvaccinated against Covid-19.
However, he has now has reached a 10th US Open final on his return and will aim for a fourth triumph on Sunday.
Djokovic reacted by mimicking Shelton’s celebration of picking up a phone – to indicate he was dialled in – and slamming it down.
“These are the matches and occasions I thrive on, they inspire me every day to keep working as hard as the young guys,” said Djokovic, who, for the third time in his career, has reached every Grand Slam final in a year.
“I still feel I have something left in the legs and something to give to the sport. I couldn’t be happier.”
Medvedev played ’12 out of 10′ to beat Alcaraz
Going into the last Grand Slam tournament of the year, most people predicted Alcaraz and Djokovic would continue their developing rivalry by meeting once again in a major final.
One man with the outstanding pedigree to stop that happening was Medvedev.
The 27-year-old has proved he can thrive on the North American hard courts, particularly when he dominated the swing in 2019 before losing to Rafael Nadal in the US Open final and two years later when he landed his maiden major title.
Before facing Alcaraz in the last four, the Russian said he needed to play “11 out of 10” to beat the top seed.
And so he did in the opening two sets, sticking in the rallies to draw errors out of Alcaraz and dominating his service games on his way to a commanding lead.
Alcaraz, backed by a lot of Spanish fans in the crowd, clawed a set back as his continual moves forward paid off.
But he was still unable to reach his highest level with Medvedev, rock solid from the baseline and showing sharp anticipation, superb in all facets.
Medvedev saved three break points for a 2-1 lead and took Alcaraz’s serve in a pivotal sixth game lasting more than 13 minutes.
Getting over the line was not a simple task, Medvedev double faulting twice after missing a match point, before he landed three timely first serves to help secure victory.
“I said I needed to play 11 out of 10 against Carlos. I played 12 out of 10, except from the third set,” said Medvedev, who will contest his third US Open final in five years.
“He is honestly really unbelievable. To beat him you need to be better than yourself and I managed to do it.”
Djokovic teaches another lesson to another youngster