Novak Djokovic against Daniil Medvedev in the US Open men's final may not have been the showdown fans were dreaming of but it could still bring the grand slam season to a spellbinding conclusion.
For weeks the tennis world was buzzing about witnessing the red-hot rivalry between Djokovic and holder Carlos Alcaraz in the Flushing Meadows finale - until Medvedev played the spoiler with a 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 3-6 6-3 semi-final win over the Spanish superstar.
But what a final between former US Open champion Medvedev and three-time winner Djokovic may lack in pizzazz it will more than make up for in quality, with the world's two best hard-court players going toe-to-toe at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The contest comes with some spicy sub plots as Djokovic hunts a fourth US Open that would have him equal Australian Margaret Court's record haul of 24 grand slam titles.
Along with it would come a measure of revenge against Medvedev.
On Sunday (Monday 6am AEST) the Serb will look across the net at the same man standing between him and sporting history as he did two years ago.
The last time Djokovic and Medvedev clashed at the US Open was in the 2021 final, when the Russian captured his only major so far and denied the Serb a calendar grand slam.
It is a loss Djokovic has not forgotten.
"Every time in a grand slam final it's another shot for history and I'm aware of it," said Djokovic, who will reclaim top spot in the world rankings on Monday.
"I don't have much time nor do I allow myself to reflect on these things or think about the history too much.
"When I did that in the past, like '21 finals (against Medvedev) here, I was maybe overwhelmed with the occasion and the opportunity. I underperformed.
"I don't want this to happen again."
Medvedev and Djokovic have both been tested en route to the final.
Second seed Djokovic, 36, fought back from two sets down to beat fellow Serb Laslo Djere in the third round but did not drop another set on the way to his 10th US Open final.
Medvedev's toughest physical test came in the quarter-finals when he beat his daughter's godfather Andrey Rublev in straight sets in brutal heat and humidity.
The Russian also overcame two Australians on his route to the final, getting the better of Chris O'Connell in four sets in round two before beating Alex de Minaur in the round of 16.
Medvedev said he had to raise his level to "12 out of 10" in the semi-finals to dethrone Alcaraz and would need to do the same or better against Djokovic.
"(Djokovic) is always better than the previous time he plays," said Medvedev, who will be appearing in his third US Open final, having also lost to Rafael Nadal in 2019.
"Novak is going to be his best version on Sunday and I have to be the best-ever version of myself if I want to try to beat him.
"And I have to be, if I want to still beat him, 10 times better than I was (in 2021)."