Four remain in the US Open men’s draw and the cream has risen to the top with the big two, in Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic, still on course to renew their rivalry in Sunday’s final.
But first things first, defending champion Alcaraz must come up trumps in his semi-final with world number three Daniil Medvedev, while 23-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic has to put his experience to good use against rising star Ben Shelton.
Carlos Alcaraz to win 3-1 v Daniil Medvedev @ 13/5
Alcaraz has not looked back since winning his maiden Grand Slam title at last season’s US Open, with the 20-year-old adding Wimbledon to his growing list of achievements in July.
In fact, Alcaraz has won six pieces of silverware this season and lost only six of the 59 matches he has contested, something which ought to strike fear into Medvedev.
The Spanish top seed swatted aside Medvedev 6-3 6-3 6-3 in their semi-final at Wimbledon earlier this summer, but the pair may be closer matched on this harder terrain.
That’s not to say Alcaraz won’t triumph because the Spaniard appears to have all bases covered and should be full of confidence following his effortless 6-3 6-2 6-4 win over Alexander Zverev in the last round.
But Medvedev, who was crowned US Open champion two years ago, thrives on these quicker surfaces and has won 18 of his 20 career titles on hard courts.
Having also finished runner-up at Flushing Meadows in 2019, Medvedev should put up a bold fight and can get a set on the board.
But it’s likely to be in vain, as even though he defeated Andrey Rublev in straight sets in his quarter-final, on total points won he only edged that contest 103 to 95 and his opponent converted five of his 13 break-point opportunities.
Over 9.5 games in first set of Ben Shelton v Novak Djokovic @ EVS
Djokovic survived an almighty scare as he clawed himself back from two sets down in round three against Laslo Djere, but it has otherwise been plain-sailing for the Serb with his other four victories coming in routine fashion.
That includes last time out against Taylor Fritz when he triumphed 6-1 6-4 6-4, although the American ace may have been defeated before he stepped out onto court having lost all seven of their previous encounters.
But a tougher test may await Djokovic in this semi-final against the unexposed Shelton, featuring in what is by some way the biggest match of his career.
Shelton had impressed on his way to 3-1 wins over Aslan Karatsev, Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe, highlighting on each occasion just how much of a weapon his big serve is.
With that in mind, early breaks of serve could be few and far between and backing over 9.5 games in the opening set looks the approach to take..