There is no opponent too strong or any other possibility that could be at stake. At least not yet. He's now just two wins away of the first calendar year Grand Slam in men’s tennis since 1969.
Djokovic lost the first set to No. 9 Flushing Meadows for the third consecutive match. But it didn't matter because he quickly improved his strokes and defeated No. 6 seed Matteo Berrettini beat No. 6 5-7, 2-6, 6-2 and 6-3 in a quarterfinal that started Wednesday night and ended after midnight Thursday.
Djokovic, sensing the direction of the question, cut off an interview and said, "Do not ask anything about history." It's there, I know."
Djokovic returned to Grand Slam play and improved his record to 26-0. Although he lost the point, his message to his opponent was clear. It basically said, "I will take whatever it takes."
Djokovic had made 17 errors in the first set and Djokovic managed to make 11 for the remainder of the match.
He said, "The tournament's best three sets,"
Djokovic remained composed after Berrettini held a break point and was trailing 4-2 in set 3. Berrettini let him put a backhand in the net, then he conjured up an ace of 121 mph and a forehand winner down to hold. Djokovic then pointed his right index finger at his ear, one of many gestures asking for the 20,299 people who are seated in the Arthur Ashe Stadium to stand for noise.
That set was his four minutes later. The match was over 42 minutes later.
Berrettini also said that Djokovic has the ability to "step up his game and his level all the time" after losing the first set in the Wimbledon final. It doesn't matter how good I play, he just plays better."
Djokovic has already won trophies on the Australian Open's Hard Courts in February, French Open's clay courts June and Wimbledon's grass courts July.
Djokovic now faces Alexander Zverev, the 2020 runner-up on U.S. Open's hard court courts. Djokovic will be joining Rod Laver (1962) and Don Budge (1938), who are the only men to win all four major singles tennis trophies in a single season if he can win Sunday's match. It has been done by three women, Steffi Graf in 1988 and Serena Williams in 2015.
Djokovic will also break the current career record of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic with another Slam title.
Zverev enters the semifinals with a 16-match winning streak that included a 1-6,6-3, and 6-1 semifinal victory against Djokovic on his way to the Tokyo Olympics gold medal.
Djokovic stated, "I'm excited," looking forward to the future. "The greater the challenge, the more glory it brings to its completion."
No. Zverev, a German 24-year-old, was 4th in the rankings. He beat Lloyd Harris 7-6 (6) and 6-3, 6-4.
Djokovic, Berrettini both showed nerves hours later in a humid evening at 75 degrees with humidity at 80%. The initial serve was preceded by roars, whistles, and applause. It was Djokovic's 124 mph ace, a three-time U.S. Open winner.
Fans are enjoying the tournament again after being banned from it a year back due to the coronavirus pandemic.
They made a fugue of competing chants for Djokovic's nickname "No-le!" No-le! and a shorter version of Berrettini’s first name, Mat-te! Mat-te!" Some people greeted Djokovic’s missed serves with claps. Others -- possibly the same people -- lamented Berrettini’s mistakes with a collective "Awwwww!"
Djokovic was not at his best early on, and made more mistakes than he could comprehend. He rolled his eyes, placed a hand to his forehead, and muttered towards his entourage.
Berrettini's 6-foot-5, 209-pound frame generates punishing power in forehands and serves; Djokovic called Berrettini the "Hammer of Tennis."
Djokovic's instincts, reflexes and agility, as well as his mobility, are better than most players. He can serve at 131 mph and return it with enough intent to cause Berrettini to miss his backhand, which is what Djokovic did in the second set, when he led 3-1.
Berrettini still managed to capture the 77-minute opening set.
"Probably every other player out, I would feel like, 'OK. Now I'm going. He's sure to feel tired. Berrettini stated that he could "kind of like" (take)over with my game, my energy, and everything. It seems like he doesn’t care about it.
Djokovic affirmed that statement, saying, "I managed to forget it, and move on."
He lost the first set against Kei Nishikori in the third round and the fourth against Jenson Brooksby in the fourth round. After that, he won in four. He did the same against Berrettini at Wimbledon.
Djokovic stated that he won his latest victory after dropping the first set. "I just moved to a different level when I lost the first set," he said. "It's something that I am encouraged by and gives me confidence.
He improved his performance by reducing his errors. There were three in the second set, and three in third. During the third, the retractable roof was closed due to rain.
Berrettini found it difficult to hold serve. He was so frustrated that he let out an exhale of relief after he had been broken three times in four games. He had already lost the second set and was 3-0 behind in the third. Djokovic was also able to reach that score.
Djokovic stated at his news conference, "Ofcourse I'm aware about the history, it gives me motivation." It can be mentally draining if I think too much about it. "I want to get back to basics, to what works best for me mentally.