Novak Djokovic is nowhere to be found in the final weekend of the U.S. Open men’s tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York. The No. 1 player in the world entered the final Grand Slam of the year as the clear favorite (+110) to win his fourth title at the hard-court event but suffered a shocking defeat in the fourth round.
Djokovic trailed Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5, 2-1 in the round of 16, then withdrew because of a shoulder injury. Wawrinka, the 2016 U.S. Open champion, in the next round faced Daniil Medvedev, who bested Djokovic in the final of the Cincinnati Masters in late August.
Medvedev (+500 to win the tournament) knocked off Wawrinka in the quarterfinal and is now matched up with another surprising contender, Grigor Dimitrov (+750) in the semifinal. Dimitrov, ranked 78th in the world, reached the penultimate round of the Grand Slam by defeating No. 3 seed Roger Federer in five sets Tuesday.
Berrettini challenges the frontrunner
On the other side of the bracket, longshot Matteo Berrettini (+1800) will shoulder the toughest test, as he takes on the powerful Rafael Nadal, who comes in at -355 odds to claim the championship. Berrettini, the No. 24 seed, dismantled Gael Monfils in the last round and will attempt to unseat the three-time U.S. Open champion, who most recently won the tournament in 2017.
Nadal earned his 12th French Open title in June, while Djokovic secured the other two Grand Slams of 2019, with victories at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
Can anyone dethrone the Big Three?
No player besides Nadal, Djokovic or Federer has won a tennis major since 2017, which leaves little hope for the three men left in the tournament to compete with Nadal. The pattern may finally be broken, though, by a 23-year-old Russian who is becoming a master on the hard court—and the villain of the U.S. Open.
Daniil Medvedev’s heel turn at the U.S. Open keeps getting better. 😂
— theScore (@theScore) September 2, 2019
Medvedev found himself in some trouble in the third round, when he let his temper get the best of him, which prompted strong boos from the New York crowd. Heading into the semifinal, he’s the most recent title winner on hard court (Cincinnati Masters). He also reached the final of the Citi Open, where he lost to Nick Kyrgios on hard court in early August, and followed up his loss with an appearance in the Canadian Open final, where he fell 6–3, 6–0 to Nadal.
The ball is most certainly in Nadal’s court heading into the weekend, and he has looked better than ever at the U.S. Open. If anyone could take him down it’s Medvedev—and what a post-match interview that would be—but Nadal has already shown he is superior to the young up-and-comer.
Until proven otherwise, you can’t bet against a member of the Big Three. Nadal will breeze past the semifinal and will celebrate his second Grand Slam and 19th major Sunday.