Novak Djokovic will try to complete the first calendar-year men’s singles Grand Slam since 1969 and become the all-time men’s leader in Slam titles by capturing the US Open.
Five past champions won’t be in the field when the showdown begins Monday on the New York hardcourts, with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Juan Martin del Potro and 2020 winner Dominic Thiem absent due to injuries.
That leaves the main obstacles in Djokovic’s path to a 21st career Slam crown as a set of rising 20-something talents trying to build their trophy hauls — Russia’s second-ranked Daniil Medvedev, Greece’s third-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas and fourth-ranked Olympic champion Alexander Zverev of Germany.
The roots of Djokovic’s amazing 2021 run were in last year’s US Open, where he was defaulted out of the tournament in the fourth round against Carreno Busta when he struck a ball and it accidentally hit a line official in the throat.
Since that defeat, the 34-year-old Serbian star has not dropped a Grand Slam match, beating Medvedev in the Australian Open final, Tsitsipas in the French Open final and Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in the Wimbledon final.
“It’s really fortunate for me and incredible that it’s all coming together in the same year,” Djokovic said. “That’s something that I didn’t expect but I always dream of achieving the biggest things in sport.”
He’s trying for a calendar-year men’s Slam feat managed only by Australian Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969 and American Don Budge in 1938.