Novak Djokovic is two steps away from becoming (alone) the player with the most Grand Slam titles in history after defeating Italian Matteo Berrettini in the US Open quarterfinals (5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6- 3). In addition, the Serbian can complete the Grand Slam cycle in the same year, something that no one has achieved since the Australian Rod Laver did it in 1969, and reach 21 titles in major tournaments.
At the end of the game, Nole wanted to take pressure off by refusing to go into details about those records. "Don't ask me anything about the story. I know it's there," he said. Nobody doubted him after seeing how he played.
He hit winners from every angle on the court and fought every ball to show that he is willing to "do whatever it takes" to be a part of history. After 17 unforced errors in the first set, Djokovic made a total of 11 for the remainder of the match.
Upon concluding he acknowledged that he had played his best three sets in the tournament. "He has this ability and that's probably why he's the best of all time: improving his game, his level, all the time," admitted Berrettini, who also lost to Djokovic after winning the first set in the Wimbledon final.
"No matter how well he plays, he plays better." Djokovic proved it with his triumphs this season in Australia, on hard courts, on the clay at Roland Garros, on the grass at Wimblendon and now on the hard courts of the Open.
Berrettini speaks about Novak Djokovic
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated sixth seed Matteo Berrettini in four sets in the quarterfinals of the 2021 US Open on Wednesday. "Really tough match, as always against Novak," Berrettini said.
"I was feeling good, playing good. Just he has this ability - and probably that's why he's the best ever - just to step up his game, his level all the time. Doesn't matter how well I play, he just plays better.
He starts to return better, to serve better. Just couldn't step up like he did. He deserved to win." The Italian also wished Djokovic luck in his bid to win the Calendar Slam. But he was quick to indicate that he would not be throwing his weight behind a single player in the GOAT debate.
"I told him that I wished him good luck for what he is doing. At the end of the careers we can compare," he said. "But I enjoy them. I enjoy what they're doing. I don't like to pick one of the three."