Novak Djokovic added another milestone to his illustrious career when he won his third US Open and in doing so his 14th career major. It was in 2002 on the very same court, the Arthur Ashe Stadium that his hero Pete Sampras won his 14th and final major.
“The history of the sport, I’m a student of the sport, of course, as everybody else, I respect history, everyone that has paved the path for me and all of us to be doing what we’re doing, to be part of this wonderful sport,” Djokovic said.
“Pete Sampras is one of the biggest legends ever to play the game. He was my childhood idol. He was someone I was looking up to. The first actually thing I saw related to tennis on the TV was his first or second Wimbledon championship. That inspired me to start playing tennis.
“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.”
Djokovic took three hours 16 minutes to defeat bis friend and 2009 winner Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3, 7-6, 6-3. It has been a remarkable turnaround for both these men.
Last year Djokovic had to skip the Open, the first time he has done that at a major and this past February he had elbow surgery and his comeback was slow and frustrating so it would have been quite a soothsayer to have suggested that the 31 year old would win two majors this year, Wimbledon and now the US Open.
“If you told me in February this year when I got the surgery that I’ll win Wimbledon, US Open, and Cincinnati, would be hard to believe,” he said. “But at the same time there was always part of me that imagined and believed and hoped that I can get back on the desired level of tennis very soon.
“I expected, to be honest, quite frank, after surgery that I’ll be back on a high level quite fast. But, you know, it took me actually three, four months really. In that process, I learned a lot about myself, learned to be patient, which was never really a stronger side of me.
“But at the same time, you know, life showed me that it takes time for good things, it takes time to really build them, for things to fall into place, so you can centre yourself, balance yourself and thrive. The last two months have been terrific.”
It was an emotional for Del Potro as well. Just a couple of years ago he questioned whether he would be able to play again. His wrist had undergone so many surgeries and it just wasn’t getting right. It was a slow process but to see him back to full fitness is great for the sport.
He was obviously very disappointed at losing the final but there were probably also feelings of gratitude that he is able to play with the best all over again and his career has been saved. He would have thought of what might have been and he broke down.
“To be honest, I was crying till now,” Del Potro said. “I’m very sad for being a loser today. But Novak deserved to take the trophy. He played a great match, very smart game. I had my opportunities during second and third set. But 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. He’s a great champion. So I’m glad for him.”
The doubles title went to Mike Bryana and Jack Sock, they defeated Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 6-3 6-1