Dhe first hour of the new day was over. Press conference. And Novak Djokovic replied, as he almost always does; wide awake, well thought out, with first-class vocabulary and pauses for breath in the right places. He was just talking about how he had experienced the semifinals of the Olympic Games, the defeat against Alexander Zverev, and he described what everyone remembers: How he had led clearly, his game then fell apart and how he didn’t mind in the end could make the other win. Zverev has not lost since then, he continued, was in fantastic shape, in the best of shape. But the next sentence began with the word “but” and a pause, and in this pause he opened the battle. “BUT – it’s Best of Five. It’s Grand Slam tennis. “
He couldn’t have introduced the big question much more briefly and succinctly, which will shine like the advertisement in Times Square on Friday at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Djokovic against Zverev in the semifinals of the US Open, five weeks after the duel in the heat of Tokyo, which the German won as well as all other games since then. The winning streak is now 16, which is no small matter, but Zverev leaves no doubt that the series itself is less important than its crux. “I’m just the only player this year who won against him in a huge event.” That’s right. But at the Olympic Games, two sets were enough to win, in New York, as in the other three Grand Slam tournaments, there are three.