NEW YORK—Never fazed, rarely flummoxed, Novak Djokovic is so collected in best-of-five-set matches even when falling behind, as he has done repeatedly at the U.S. Open.
No opponent, or the prospect of what’s at stake, has been too much to handle. Not yet, anyway. And now he’s two wins away from the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s tennis since 1969, along with a men’s record 21st major championship overall.
Djokovic ceded the opening set for the third consecutive match at Flushing Meadows and ninth time at a major in 2021 but again it didn’t matter, because he quickly corrected his strokes and beat No. 6 seed Matteo Berrettini 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 in a quarterfinal that began Wednesday night and concluded after midnight Thursday.
During his on-court interview, Djokovic cut off a question, sensing where it was headed, and said: “Do not ask me anything about history. I know it’s there.”
As he came back and improved to 26-0 in Grand Slam play this season, Djokovic found every angle, thwarted every big Berrettini shot and was so locked in he dove and dropped his racket during one exchange yet scrambled, rose and reinserted himself in the point. He lost it, but the message to his foe was unmistakable, essentially amounting to, “I will do whatever it takes.”
After 17 unforced errors in the first set, Djokovic made a total of 11 the rest of the way.
“The best three sets I’ve played in the tournament, for sure,” he said.