Djokovic headed for bright finish with U.S. Open win
Send a link to a friend
[September 10, 2018]
By Steve Keating
NEW YORK (Reuters) - For Novak
Djokovic, a season that got off to a gloomy start is heading for a
brilliant finish after he dismissed Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3 7-6(4)
6-3 to win the U.S. Open on Sunday and earn back-to-back Grand Slam
Working his way back from elbow surgery he underwent following the
Australian Open, Djokovic did not expect to feature in the Grand
Slam picture this season.
But in the last eight weeks the 31-year-old has resembled the Grand
Slam machine that held all four major titles at the same time in
2016, wining three of his last four events including Wimbledon and
"If you told me in February this year when I got the surgery that
I'll win Wimbledon, U.S. Open, and Cincinnati, would be hard to
believe," said Djokovic, after pushing his career total to 14 Grand
Slams to sit equal third with Pete Sampras on the all-time list.
"Life showed me that it takes time for good things, it takes time to
really build them, for things to fall into place.
"The last two months have been terrific."
The sixth seed had suffered in the ferocious heat and humidity
through the early days of the season's final Grand Slam but dropped
only two sets for the tournament and none since the second round.
Playing on the same court where Sampras claimed his 14th and final
Grand Slam crown, Djokovic has endured more disappointment than joy
on Arthur Ashe, winning three titles from eight finals.
All that frustration was washed away when he struck the overhead
winner to clinch victory over Del Potro, Djokovic falling to his
back, arms and legs spread savoring the moment.
"Pete Sampras is one of the biggest legends ever to play the game,"
explained Djokovic. "He was my childhood idol.
"There is a lot of significance of me being now shoulder to shoulder
in terms of Grand Slam wins with him.
"It's truly incredible when you think about it. I watched him win
one of his first Wimbledon championships, and I grew up playing and
thinking that one day I'll be able to do what he does.
"To actually be here, it's a dream come true."
[to top of second column]
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates a service break in the 3rd set
against Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in the men's final on day
fourteen of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean
King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA
Djokovic and Del Potro walked onto Arthur Ashe Stadium court with
the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center still buzzing over the
controversial women's final on Saturday, won by Japan's Naomi Osaka
after Serena Williams incurred three code violations.
Britain's Alison Hughes, the second woman to umpire a U.S. Open
men's singles final, kept a low profile as the two former champions
went to work.
The tension and fireworks of the Osaka-Williams clash were left
behind during a relatively calm and composed baseline battle between
two friends and familiar foes, who had played each other 18 times,
with Djokovic holding a commanding 14-4 edge.
While there was joy in victory there was none to be taken from
beating a teary Del Potro, who knows the pain of a comeback having
undergone four wrist surgeries that caused him to miss 14 Grand
Slams and at one point looked to be derailing his career.
Del Potro's sole Grand Slam title came at the U.S. Open in 2009 and
he said it had been an emotional journey back to the Flushing
"I'm very sad for being a loser today but Novak deserved to take the
trophy," said Del Potro, who wept into his hands before being
comforted by Djokovic.
"I was playing almost at the limit all the time, looking for winners
with my forehands, backhands, and I couldn't make it because Novak
were there every time.
"The worst part to me is the chances that I couldn't make but then
when you see a friend holding the trophy, it's good, too.
"I'm glad that Novak is the champion."
(Editing by Ian Ransom/Peter Rutherford)
[© 2018 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2018 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.