Published: Thu, September 13, 2018
Sports | By Juana Wells

Djokovic, Nadal and Federer in unthinkable three-year first

Djokovic, Nadal and Federer in unthinkable three-year first

"I just watched that match when I was preparing for this final", Djokovic told Serbian outlet Sport Klub. Three times, Djokovic steeled himself. Now Del Potro rips a backhand victor down the line that paints the deuce line and he's got another break point.

Djokovic had dropped to 22nd in the world rankings earlier this year after needing surgery in January to fix a long-standing elbow injury, a problem which ruled him out of last year's US Open. "[Marco] Cecchinato has made me realise a lot of things after that loss to him in Roland Garros", replied Djokovic.

But it seems his experience from last month's Cincinnati Masters helped pull him through against a raucous crowd at Flushing Meadows.

The second set went into a tie-breaker but Djokovic maintained composure to close it out and make sure he lifted a US Open trophy in his eighth final in NY.

Djokovic is now level on 14 Grand Slam titles with Pete Sampras and, in men's terms, behind only Rafael Nadal on 17 and Roger Federer's 20.

Osaka's father Leonard, who went to NY for her match, said he was beyond excited, and relieved to see her win.

He picked up the pace with straight-sets victories over France's Richard Gasquet, Portugal's Joao Sousa, Millman and 2014 finalist Kei Nishikori to arrive at a title tilt with good friend Del Potro. Since then, he's missed extensive time with injuries to both wrists. "I'm glad I managed to do that".

His opponent? Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 Open champ, whose own comeback story is arguably even more compelling than Djokovic's.

It appeared it could be easier when Djokovic broke del Potro in the second game of the set and led 3-1.

"This might sound amusing, but my nickname is Nole".

"Difficult times but you learn from adversity. when you have doubtful moments when things are not working out as you want (them) to and I try to take the best out of myself in those moments and thrive on the love and support I receive from my closed ones and get myself in this position", Djokovic expressed.

Since playing on the grass at Queen's Club in June, Djokovic has only lost two matches, while he extended his imposing winning record over Del Potro to 15-4.

Never was that more apparent than in the game that stood out on this evening, with Djokovic serving while down 4-3 in the second set. They went back and forth, through eight deuces and all those break opportunities for del Potro, until he slapped one forehand into the net, and another sailed wide.

Those were high-risk shots, but as del Potro put it: "It's the only way to beat these kind of players".

The duo saved three championship points in the deciding set in a match that took more than 2½ hours to complete. Angelique Kerber went from No. 4 to No. 3.

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