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Former champ Daniil Medvedev and newcomer Ben Shelton try to disrupt a much anticipated Alcaraz/Djokovic matchup.

(2) Novak Djokovic vs. Ben Shelton

If Novak Djokovic thought the youth movement lining up to dethrone him consisted of only one man, he can think again.

Enter Ben Shelton, another 20-year-old ready to take a swing at stifling Djokovic’s march toward Grand Slam history.

Shelton’s potential has bloomed in this run to the US Open semifinals. He ousted fellow countrymen Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe in the previous two rounds, displaying power and poise in each contest.

The power is big. 149 mph serves, big.

Shelton was a quarterback growing up before he keyed in on tennis. The mechanics of throwing a football are very similar to that of serving a tennis ball. Many tennis players even throw footballs to warm their arms up before serve practice.

Make no mistake, Shelton’s background as a quarterback is paying dividends on the tennis court. And that goes much deeper than just his serve, by the way.

He’ll fill out his athletic frame and add a few pounds of muscle in the next few years, so expect those serves to start clocking in the mid-150s. Tennis hasn’t seen those numbers on the radar gun since Andy Roddick retired his howitzer.

The power is flashy, but poise is the critical resource in big matches. Shelton has it, but how much?

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Djokovic won’t fall for the power game. He knows that huge power breeds overreliance and inconsistency.

And consistency will be the story of this match. Novak’s bread and butter is long, grueling rallies. He’ll goad young Shelton into going for too much, too soonover and over and over again.

And Shelton will know it. Early. And he won’t be able to do anything about it.

Poise comes with exposure. This is probably a situation where Shelton is happy to be here. That’s fine, too. He should be happy and satisfied with this result.

He’ll say otherwise, and he may think he believes otherwise, but deep down he knows Djokovic is too tall an order for him right now. He’ll have to pay his dues this time.

Winner: Novak Djokovic

(1) Carlos Alcaraz vs. (3) Daniil Medvedev

Daniil Medvedev loves to prove people wrong. He thrives on big stages when everyone is counting him out.

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He harnessed that irreverent mojo in the finals two years ago to spoil Novak’s courtship with a Calendar Slam here in New York.

That victory remains Medvedev’s lone Grand Slam title.

In 2023, ranked No. 3 in the world, he finds himself an afterthought. It’s probably right where he wants to be.

Few will give him much of a chance against No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz. The truth is that his style just doesn’t match up well with the flamboyant Spaniard.

Medvedev likes to junk it up and fluster his opponents. He annoys them with odd angles and unconventional sidespins, then unloads quirky winners. It’s unorthodox and extremely effective.

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Alcaraz is almost entirely immune to that style of play, though. He absorbs it as intermediate craftsmanship and then blisters pristine winners as if to say “no, your shots are silly. Stop trying that, it won’t work. I want you to improve and play your best, let me help you. You can do it. I respect you and love you. Vamos.”

Alcaraz dispatched Medvedev in the Wimbledon semifinals two months ago in a frictionless match. Medvedev is a different beast on hardcourts, though.

Should Alcaraz have an off day, Medvedev’s style could keep Alcaraz from finding a rhythm and he could muster the upset. It will require an off day from Alcaraz, though, because both players at their best level favors Carlitos.

Medvedev takes a set, but Alcaraz has too much game and belief right now to cede control for three out of five. And Alcaraz really wants to play Novak again, just because it’s fun.

He’ll get his chance, and the tennis world will get its wish.

Winner: Carlos Alcaraz