Sunday Preview: Djokovic & Wawrinka Renew Their Rivalry
It’s been three years since Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka faced off in the 2016 US Open final, which saw Wawrinka prevail for his third Grand Slam crown. The top-seeded Serbian and No. 23 seed from Switzerland take to Arthur Ashe Stadium once again for an epic fourth-round showdown on Sunday.
Defending champion Djokovic leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 19-5, but Wawrinka’s three most recent victories against him have come in Grand Slams. The Swiss also defeated Djokovic in the 2014 Australian Open quarter-finals and 2015 Roland Garros final, consistently finding a way to raise his level against the World No. 1 in major matches.
“I was full of confidence. I was playing well, moving well, at the top of my game. For sure I could only play the best tennis when it's the final,” Wawrinka recalled of his US Open triumph. “There's something with him that when I get into my best game, I know that it's going to have some big rally. I'm going to play good tennis.”
However, their careers have taken markedly different turns since their most recent clash in New York. Although they each missed the last four months of the 2017 season due to injury, Djokovic would go on to add another four Grand Slam titles to his tally, while Wawrinka's comeback has yielded just one tour-level final this February in Rotterdam (l. to Monfils). But despite being the on-paper favourite, Djokovic’s past history with Wawrinka in Grand Slams means he won’t be taking the battle lightly.
”We had some great battles over the years everywhere, but particularly here. I lost to him the last time we played on this court,” Djokovic said. “He’s someone that possesses a game with a lot of power and quality. He’s a great guy. We practice together a lot, so may the best man win.”
Third-seeded Swiss Roger Federer kicks off the day session against No. 15 seed David Goffin of Belgium. The five-time US Open champion leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 8-1, including a win this June in the championship match in Halle. Federer is rounding into top form this week, dropping just five games in a dominant third-round victory over Brit Daniel Evans. The World No. 3 in the ATP Rankings looks to shed the demons of his fourth-round exit last year to Aussie John Millman and inch closer to his first title in New York since 2008.
Meanwhile, Goffin is enjoying a career resurgence over the past two months, reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals and his first ATP Masters 1000 final last month in Cincinnati (l. to Medvedev). His tenacious and reliable brand of tennis has yielded plenty of wins over top players, particularly when they’re not at their best. If Federer gets off to the slow starts that he displayed in his first two rounds this week, the Belgian will be sure to take advantage.
Fifth-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev meets German qualifier Dominik Koepfer, who had just two tour-level wins to his name prior to this week. Medvedev is arguably the most in-form player on tour at the moment, fresh off his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati (d. Goffin) and holding a 17-2 record since the end of the grass-court season. But the 23-year-old will have added pressure against Koepfer as he looks to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final.
“As everybody says, before the tournament I was one of the favourites. Probably unconsciously I was looking in the second week, at the draw,” he said. “I’m trying to convince myself to look at match by match.”
Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and #NextGenATP Aussie Alex de Minaur face off for a pivotal moment in both of their careers. Dimitrov seeks his first quarter-final in New York, while De Minaur looks to build on what is already his best Grand Slam result. The 20-year-old Aussie has excelled on hard courts this season, lifting his first two ATP Tour titles in Sydney (d. Seppi) and Winston-Salem (d. Fritz). Dimitrov has endured a difficult season by his lofty standards, but the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion is capable of beating anyone when he’s at his best.
ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY, 1 September 2019
Louis Armstrong Stadium start 11:00
Three WTA matches
Court No. 17 start 11:00
 Kevin Krawietz/Andreas Mies vs Marcelo Arevalo/Jonny O’Mara
 Oliver Marach/Jurgen Melzer vs Marius Copil/Nick Kyrgios
 Lukasz Kubot/Marcelo Melo vs Leonardo Mayer/Joao Sousa