World No 1 Novak Djokovic is just one win away from completing a calendar Grand Slam after punching his ticket to the US Open final with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win over Alexander Zverev.
The Serb will face Russian Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s final, after the world No 2 saw off 21-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in his semi-final.
Djokovic avenged his loss to Zverev at the Tokyo Olympics in front of a roaring crowd inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, with Rod Laver sitting in the front row, 52 years after he achieved his own calendar Slam, the last man to do so.
"There’s only one match left. All in, all in. Let’s do it," Djokovic said.
"I’m going to put my heart and my soul and my body and my head into that one. I’m going to treat the next match like it is the last match of my career."
Djokovic handed the German his first break of the night with a double fault in the first set but otherwise showed no mercy, firing off 41 winners and a dozen aces across the entire match.
The third set was a matter of survival of the fittest. Djokovic had a 40-0 head start in the tenth game only to see Zverev fend off two break points through marathon rallies, including a 53-shot exchange, before he broke the German's serve for the set point.
Tied at two sets a piece, Djokovic won a 30-shot rally for the early break, but after fending off four break points saw Zverev convert in the seventh game. He broke Zverev's serve in the next game before hoisting his arms aloft to wild cheers from the crowd.
"The best atmosphere of the tournament so far," said Djokovic, who has had a fitful relationship with the New York crowd at times. "These are the moments we live for and these are the kind of unique opportunities that we dream of everyday ... So thank you so much for making it special."
The evening was yet another disappointment for Zverev, who came within two points of winning the tournament a year ago and must once again walk away empty handed, after reaching the semi-finals of Roland Garros, as well.
Djokovic, who has hoisted the trophy at Flushing Meadows three times before already, has now equalled Federer's record of 31 Grand Slam men's single finals. Victory over Medvedev would not only see him complete a calendar Slam but also move ahead of his great rivals Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal win 21 major titles.
"I know everybody wants to talk about history," Djokovic said. "I'm just trying to lock into what I know works for me."
Standing in his way is Medvedev who is hoping his third major final is a charm after losing his previous two.
The 25-year-old Russian dropped the 2019 US Open final to Rafael Nadal and lost February's Australian Open final to Djokovic.
"The more you lose something, the more you want to win it, the more you want to gain it and take it," Medvedev said.
"I lost two finals. I want to win the third one. You never know what's going to happen, but I'm going to try more than I did the first two times."
Medvedev has dropped only one set in the Flushing Meadows fortnight, saving him valuable energy for the grind to come against Djokovic.
"It was definitely smooth," Medvedev said. "You know how Grand Slams are: even if you get to the final without losing a set, all the matches going to be tough in their own way.
"There were some tight moments. There were some tight battles. It's never easy, but I'm happy that I managed to save a lot of physical abilities, physical power, and mental power.
"For sure, I don't think anybody is capable of winning Slam after playing first three rounds five sets. I doubt this ever happened. So this is important. I'm really happy I managed to make it kind of fast."