Canada's Auger-Aliassime ousted by world No. 2 Medvedev in U.S. Open semis
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic maintains bid for calendar Grand Slam
Felix Auger-Aliassime's dream of playing in a U.S. Open men's final will have to wait for next year.
The 21-year-old from Montreal lost in straight sets Friday, dropping a 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 decision to second-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia.
The loss leaves Canada's Grand Slam hopes on the shoulders of 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez, who makes her debut in the women's final Saturday against Emma Raducanu of Great Britain.
"Daniil was the better player on the court today, for sure," Auger-Aliassime said after the match.
"I had to play at my best level and even better if I wanted to win today, and I didn't do it long enough."
WATCH | Auger-Aliassime out of U.S. Open semis:
Auger-Aliassime, who was seeded 12th, held his own throughout the semifinal against the powerful Medvedev, thanks to crafty play at the net and returns his opponent often sent well past the baseline.
But a string of first-serve misses and double-faults saw the Canadian relinquish several scoring opportunities, especially early in the first set, which Medvedev — who barely seemed to break a sweat throughout the match — claimed easily.
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The Russian fought back to win five straight games and take control of the match.
Even Medvedev himself sounded surprised that he managed to win in straight sets.
"Everybody felt it was going to be one set [each] after the second," he said, describing the reversal of fortune as a key turning point for both players.
WATCH | Fernandez storms into U.S. Open final:
"You never know how a match is going to go," Medvedev said as he described closing the gap. "That's the moment I could break him mentally, and that's what happened."
Auger-Aliassime committed 39 unforced errors, including 10 double-faults, three of them coming in the opening game. He managed only 17 winners to 37 for Medvedev, who had just 25 unforced mistakes.
Auger-Aliassime became the first Canadian to reach the U.S. Open men's semifinals earlier this week when Carlos Alcaraz of Spain retired from their quarterfinal match with a leg injury.
But he clearly had his hands full with Medvedev, despite the exhortations of a New York crowd that has demonstrated its affinity for Canadian players throughout the tournament.
WATCH | Fernandez finals-bound after defeating Sabalenka:
"A player like this, you just don't have room for making mistakes, room for losing your focus, which I did at the end of the second," Auger-Aliassime said.
"He took advantage of it."
Fernandez, whose surprising run to the final continued Thursday with a win over Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, has attributed much of her success to the support of the U.S. fans.
Auger-Aliassime proved a favourite with the crowd Friday as well, particularly those brandishing Maple Leaf flags. "Go get 'em, Felix," they shouted. "C'mon, Felix. You got this."
He didn't leave Flushing Meadows entirely empty-handed, however: organizers presented Auger-Aliassime with the tournament's sportsmanship award, which goes to the players who most personify the spirit of the game over the course of the series.
WATCH | Canadian buzz for Fernandez ahead of U.S. Open finals appearance:
Still, he couldn't mask his disappointment.
"It's great," Auger-Aliassime said half-heartedly of what has indeed been a strong season-long performance, one that included his first-ever trip to the Wimbledon quarterfinals, as well as Friday's semifinal berth.
"The final," he added, "would have been even better."
In women's doubles, Ottawa's Gabriela Dabrowski and Brazil's Luisa Stefani lost their semifinal match to the American duo of Coco Gauff and Catherine McNally.
Stefani landed awkwardly near the net during a first-set tiebreaker and injured her leg. Dabrowski and Stefani had a 2-1 edge in the tiebreaker at the time.
WATCH | Dabrowski eliminated from doubles semis:
It will be Medvedev's second appearance in the men's final in three years after losing to Rafael Nadal in 2019.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
Djokovic moves within reach of calendar Grand Slam
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic kept his bid for a calendar Grand Slam alive on Friday, overcoming German Alexander Zverev 4-6 6-2 6-4 4-6 6-2 in the other semi-final.
Djokovic moved within one win of reaching a men's record 21 Grand Slam titles and avenged his loss to Zverev at the Tokyo Olympics in front of a roaring crowd inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, with Rod Laver, the last person to complete a calendar slam 52 years ago, looking on.
"There's only one match left. All in, all in. Let's do it," Djokovic said.
WATCH | Djokovic keeps bid for calendar Grand Slam alive:
"I'm going to put my heart and my soul and my body and my head into that one. I'm going to treat the next match like it is the last match of my career."
Djokovic handed the German his first break of the night with a double fault in the first set but otherwise showed no mercy, firing off 41 winners and a dozen aces across the entire match.
The third set was a matter of survival of the fittest. Djokovic had a 40-0 head start in the tenth game only to see Zverev fend off two break points through marathon rallies, including a 53-shot exchange, before he broke the German's serve for the set point.
Tied at two sets a piece, Djokovic won a 30-shot rally for the early break, but after fending off four break points saw Zverev convert in the seventh game. He broke Zverev's serve in the next game before hoisting his arms aloft to wild cheers from the crowd.
WATCH | Zverev wins 53-shot rally:
"The best atmosphere of the tournament so far," said Djokovic, who has had a fitful relationship with the New York crowd at times. "These are the moments we live for and these are the kind of unique opportunities that we dream of everyday.... So thank you so much for making it special."
"Alexander is a big champion, is someone that I admire on and off the court," said Djokovic.
"I knew coming into the court today there is going to be a great battle, as we said, prior to this match. I hope that we brought energy."
Djokovic, who has hoisted the trophy at Flushing Meadows three times before already, has now equalled Roger Federer's record of 31 Grand Slam men's single finals.
With files from Reuters