How hiking helped Djokovic reach greater US Open heights

Grant SmithSep 14, 2018

He defeated Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 in straight sets. Roger Federer of Switzerland has 20 Grand Slam titles and Spain's Rafael Nadal has 17 singles' Grand Slam trophies to his name.

Djokovic seemed on his way to a smooth victory with a 3-1 lead in the third set, but Del Potro wasn't quite ready to surrender.

To his credit, Del Potro rallied again to recover a break in the third set, but Djokovic was simply too good and sealed the match with a smash before collapsing in delight.

He had three more chances in the eighth, all saved by Djokovic in a marathon 20-minute game which left even Hollywood superstar Meryl Streep clasping her head in astonishment.

An eight-time finalist in NY who had only previously lifted the trophy in 2011 and 2015, the Serbian was made to work hard on Sunday as Del Potro came from a break down in the second and third sets.

Leading 4-3, Djokovic caught Del Potro off guard with his exceptional patience and strong strokes to break Del Potro's serve.

This is Djokovic's second straight Grand Slam singles title this season following Wimbledon 2018 and a 14th overall to tie American Pete Sampras for third all-time.

After the controversy surrounding Serena Williams' defeat by Naomi Osaka in Saturday's women's final, a high-quality match between two of the top male players ensured tennis was once again the talking point.

"I guess we'll be hiking some more very soon", he added with a smile. "I was trying to fix all my injuries to be here once again and I got here after nine years, which is fantastic for me because the US Open is my favourite tournament".

"If you told me in February this year when I got the surgery that I'll win Wimbledon, US Open, and Cincinnati, it would be hard to believe", said Djokovic, referring to August's Cincinnati Masters that completed his Masters collection. The 23-time Grand Slam victor continues to climb back following a 13-month maternity absence during which her WTA ranking plummeted to 491.

The runners-up, Juan Martin Del Potro and Serena Williams, pocketed a healthy $2.6 million. "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", Djokovic said. Returning the following month he lost back-to-back matches to Taro Daniel and Benoit Paire and his ranking dropped as low as 22.

Federer and Nadal have made me the player I am today. "But I was playing nearly at the limit all the time, looking for winners with my forehands, backhands, and I couldn't make it because Novak was there every time".

'I have utmost respect for what they have achieved on the court, but also the champions, role models they are off the court.

But he had a 4-14 losing record against Djokovic, including four at the Slams - two of them at the US Open in 2007 and 2012. He can also take aim at trying to finish the season at No. 1, something he did in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015.

The 2.4 overnight rating is up 32% from a year ago (1.9 for Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys of the U.S.) and 79% higher than 2016 (1.4 for Angelique Kerber vs. Karolina Pliskova).

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