Sports

US Open 2021: Novak Djokovic fights back to beat Matteo Berrettini, 2 steps away from ‘Calendar Slam’

Novak Djokovic again 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 (September 8), the Serb now just two wins away from a 21st major that would complete a calendar-year Grand Slam. Djokovic, who also lost the opening set in his previous two matches, and Berrettini have met only three times but two were this year when the stakes were at their highest – the Wimbledon final and French Open quarters – with the world number one winning both times in four sets.

The 25-year-old Italian had a third shot at derailing Djokovic’s Grand Slam plans on Wednesday but once again could not seize his chance, converting just one of five break opportunities, that coming in the first set. Djokovic takes another step up in class in the next round, where he faces fourth seed Alexander Zverev, the player who last month ended his bid for a ‘Golden Slam’ by beating him in the Tokyo Olympics semi-finals.

Zverev arrives at the final four as the hottest player in men`s tennis, advancing with a 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-4 win over unseeded South African Lloyd Harris to extend his winning run to 16 matches.

Solid Maria Sakkari reaches last four stage
Maria Sakkari leveraged her powerful serve and excellent court coverage to reach the US Open semifinals with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Karolina Pliskova on Wednesday and dedicated her win to the people of Greece, who have endured a summer of brutal wildfires. Sakkari was rock solid throughout the win on Arthur Ashe Stadium, hounding Pliskova into mistakes and getting an early break before going on take the first set.

The Greek 17th seed maintained the aggression in the second set, converting on break point in the seventh game as 2016 runner-up Pliskova failed to match her intensity. The Czech, runner-up at Wimbledon this year, committed three double faults and 20 unforced errors in the match before Sakkari wrapped things up in one hour and 22 minutes.

Roland Garros semi-finalist Sakkari used her serve to devastating effect, winning 22 straight service points after starting the second game of the match down 0-30. “I served really, really well,” she told reporters. “I’m very happy I managed my stress level and my expectations. Especially at the end of the match, it was quite tough to close it out, but I think I did quite well.”

She dedicated her win to the people back home in Greece, where more than 500 fires forced the evacuation of dozens of villages and thousands of people. “For me, winning for Greece, making Greek people proud and happy, especially in difficult times, it makes me even more happy because you know how much I love my country,” she said.