Novak Djokovic is now joint third in the all-time grand slam rankings after a 6-3 7-6 6-3 win over Juan Martin Del Potro in the US Open final. A stellar performance put him tied with Pete Sampras at 14 slams, making it three US Opens alongside his 6 Australian Open, 4 Wimbledon and 1 French Open title.
It was by no means a bad performance from Del Potro, who fought admirably and could have made it a competitive scoreline with a bit of luck on the key points. It felt like a tiebreak was on the cards in set one with both players looking very solid on serve, only for Del Potro to give away the break from 40-0 up at 3-4 in the opener. Djokovic would drive Del Potro mad with some incredibly defence throughout while he would also pick his spots to approach the net very well – going 76% (28/37) at the net.
A break for 3-1 suggested the match would run away quickly from there but Del Potro fought back with the crowd on his side as a heated Djokovic attempted to stem the tide. A 20 minute hold would tie things up and they would get to the tiebreak, where he would draw a number of errors to come from 1-3 down. There would be similar scenes in the third and final set too, with Djokovic giving up a break lead before bouncing back. It would be a Del Potro double fault that gave him the opportunity to serve it out, closing out the match with an overhead before falling to the floor in celebration.
“I was playing at my limit almost all the time, looking for winners,” Del Potro said in his high praise of the champion. “But I couldn’t make them because Novak was there almost every time. I took the risks with my forehand because it was the only way to beat this kind of player. My mistakes were because of his level. Novak is too fast. His defence is good. It is really difficult to beat a player like Novak.”
For Djokovic, this is confirmation that he is truly back. He may be a way out from Roger Federer’s 20 but it is still a realistic prospect if he maintains this level over the next 5 years of his career. “There is a lot of significance of me being now shoulder to shoulder in terms of Grand Slam wins with him [Pete Sampras]. 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.”