NEW YORK (AFP) – Novak Djokovic moved within two matches of completing the first men’s calendar-year singles Grand Slam in 52 years on Wednesday, rallying to defeat Italian Matteo Berrettini in a US Open quarterfinal.
Top-ranked Djokovic stretched his Grand Slam win streak to 26 matches by eliminating sixth seed Berrettini, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, at Arthur Ashe Stadium in a rematch of July’s Wimbledon final.
”I think it was a great performance overall,” Djokovic said, calling his last three sets ”the best three sets I’ve played in the tournament.”
The world number one booked a semi-final date Friday against Olympic champion Alexander Zverev, who beat Djokovic in the semifinals in Tokyo.
”He’s in tremendous form. He has been winning a lot,” Djokovic said. ”He’s one of the best players in the world right now and I’m pumped. The bigger the challenge, the more glory in overcoming it.”
Djokovic is trying to become the first man to win all four major titles in the same year since Rod Laver in 1969, but he wasn’t ready ponder the glory of that challenge just yet.
The 34-year-old Serbian also seeks his fourth US Open title and men’s record 21st career Slam trophy, which would lift him one above the mark he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both absent with injuries.
German fourth seed Zverev, last year’s US Open runner-up, reached his fourth career Slam semi-final by eliminating South Africa’s 46th-ranked Lloyd Harris 7-6 (8/6), 6-3, 6-4.
Zverev denied Djokovic’s bid for a ”Golden Slam” sweep of all four major titles plus Olympic gold, but Djokovic leads their all-time rivalry 6-3.
”He’s the best player in the world. He’s very difficult to beat,” Zverev said. ”I was the first player to beat him in a very big match this year. That does give you something.”
Zverev is on a 16-match win streak that includes a title last month at Cincinnati. Djokovic didn’t play between the Olympics and the Open.
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.