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Medvedev into third Grand Slam final at US Open

NEW YORK — Daniil Medvedev was a point from finding himself tied at a set apiece in his US Open semifinal against Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The No. 2-seeded Medvedev surged out of that tight spot, beat a mistake-prone Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 on Friday and now is headed to his third Grand Slam final.

All in all, this match amounted to an opening act ahead of the headliner: No. 1 Novak Djokovic against No. 4 Alexander Zverev in the second semifinal Friday night.

Djokovic began the day 26-0 at major tournaments in 2021, with titles at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, and his sights on becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete a calendar-year Grand Slam. Laver was seated in the President’s Box at Arthur Ashe Stadium for Friday’s matches.

Medvedev, a 25-year-old from Russia, was the runner-up to Djokovic at Melbourne Park in February and to Rafael Nadal at Flushing Meadows in 2019. This was Medvedev’s third consecutive trip to the US Open semifinals.

The 12th-seeded Auger-Aliassime is a 21-year-old from Canada who is coached by Nadal’s uncle, Toni. He was appearing in a major semifinal for the first time.

Maybe the newness of it all affected him. Surely, Medvedev’s play did, too.

Auger-Aliassime finished with 39 unforced errors — including 10 double-faults, three in the opening game alone — and just 17 winners.

Compare that to Medvedev’s numbers, compiled via behind-the-baseline court coverage and slick strokes: 37 winners, 25 unforced errors.

Auger-Aliassime finally earned a break point more than an hour in, and a double fault by Medvedev handed over a 4-2 lead, which quickly became 5-2. But when Auger-Aliassime served for that set at 5-3, he couldn’t get over the line.

Twice, he was a point from taking the set. Twice, it didn’t happen, most disconcertingly when he missed what should have been a routine forehand volley, slapping it into the net.

A bad backhand ultimately gave away that game, then more mistakes — a double fault among them — contributed to Auger-Aliassime getting broken at love to trail 6-5.

Medvedev then held to cap a five-game run and claim a two-set lead. The match was 1 1/2 hours old and, essentially, over.

Medvedev and Zverev both are in search of a first Grand Slam title. Djokovic, meanwhile, is trying to win a 21st overall title from the sport’s four most important tournaments, which would break the men’s career mark he shares with Nadal and Roger Federer.

Zverev went into Friday on a 16-match winning streak, including a victory over Djokovic in the Tokyo Olympics semifinals on July 30 along the way to the gold medal. That was a best-of-three-sets match; in New York, the format is best-of-five for men.

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