Daniil Medvedev knows he will have to be the “best-ever version” of himself if he is to win a second US Open title.
Medvedev rated himself a 12 out of 10 for his surprise semi-final victory over world number one and defending champion Carlos Alcaraz.
Presumably the Russian third seed will have to crank that up to at least 13 if he is to deny Novak Djokovic a 24th grand-slam title.
“Against Novak, it’s always the same. He is always better than the previous time he plays,” said Medvedev.
A 15th meeting awaits Sunday. pic.twitter.com/ZrUCzbwXDo
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 9, 2023
“For example, I beat him in the US Open final, then he beat me in Bercy in a great match. Carlos beat him at Wimbledon, he beat him in Cincinnati.
“Novak is going to be his best version on Sunday, and I have to be the best-ever version of myself if I want to try to beat him.”
Medvedev’s only grand-slam title to date came in that 2021 Flushing Meadows final, a straight-sets win over Djokovic.
He said: “I think the only way I can do that is, as I say, thinking that Novak, when he loses, he’s never the same after. So he’s different. It’s just a different mentality.
“That’s why he has 23 grand slams, (however many) Masters 1000s, weeks at number one. So I have to use it knowing that he’s going to be 10 times better than he was that day.
“And I have to be, if I want to still beat him, 10 times better than I was that day. That’s what I’m going to try to do.”
Djokovic is bidding to become the oldest New York champion in the Open era, surpassing 35-year-old Ken Rosewall in 1970.
“The fact is that at 36, every grand-slam final could be the last one,” he said.
“So I think that I probably value these occasions and opportunities to win another slam more than maybe 10 years ago, because 10 years ago I felt like I still have quite a few years ahead of me.
“I don’t know how many I have ahead of me now, or I don’t know how many of the years where I play four slams in the whole season I have in front of me.
“So of course I am aware of the occasion. But I try to approach Sunday’s match as basically any other match with intention to win, and I’ll play my opponent.
“Knowing that it’s going to be the toughest challenge, without a doubt, not just because it’s a final but also because of who I’m playing, the last time I faced him in a grand-slam final I lost.”