Novak Djokovic made it back-to-back Grand Slam titles as he beat Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets to win his third US Open title in New York.
The Serb won 6-3 7-6(4) 6-3 in three hours and 16 minutes to claim his 14th major title, bringing him level with Pete Sampras in third place on the all-time list.
“I was hoping he was going to be here tonight,” said Djokovic, “but I want to say Pete, I love you, you’re my idol, I’ll see you soon – on the court I hope.”
Del Potro was playing his first Grand Slam final since winning the title at Flushing Meadows nine years ago, and came into the final fresh and for the loss of just one set in six matches.
However, Djokovic has rediscovered the form that brought him four major titles in a row in 2015 and 2016.
“I would just like to congratulate Juan Martin for what he has done in the last four, five years with his wrist injury, coming back, having faith in himself that one day he’s going to come back,” added Djokovic.
“I know that one day he’s going to be here again with the champion’s trophy.”
Del Potro said: “I’m so happy to be playing the final against this amazing idol.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 9, 2018
“He is one of my friends on the tour and he knows he is one of the players on tour I want to see win. Of course I’m sad but I’m happy for Novak and for his team.”
Having won his fourth Wimbledon title in July, the 31-year-old Djokovic showed beyond doubt that he was back to his brilliant best as he dismantled the opposition in New York.
After a tight start to the final, Djokovic made the first move as he reeled off five straight points from 40-0 down to lead 5-3 and served out the set.
Constantly pressuring the Del Potro serve with his pinpoint returning, the Serb broke again for a 2-1 lead but his run of 23 consecutive holds was ended soon after as the Argentine got back on level terms.
Del Potro looked ready to take control at 4-3 but Djokovic held on in an epic 20-minute game, and went on to edge the tiebreak for a two-set lead.
Djokovic’s magnificent defence brought up another break point at 2-1 in the third set, and a clenched fist followed as a Del Potro backhand sailed long.
There was one more show of defiance from Del Potro as he levelled at 3-3, to the roars of his supporters in Arthur Ashe Stadium, but there would be no stopping the former world No.1.
Djokovic broke serve for the fourth time and closed it out with his 16th consecutive set in New York, falling to the court in celebration before heading into the stands to find his team and family.
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