Novak Djokovic overwhelmed Juan Martin del Potro to win the US Open men’s final on Sunday, earning a 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3 straight sets victory at Flushing Meadows.
The win gave Djokovic his 14th career Grand Slam title, tying him for third all-time with Pete Sampras, behind only Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (17).
Djokovic Survives Second Set Surge
While the final score was an accurate reflection of Djokovic’s dominance, there were some tense moments in the second set. With the Serbian superstar ahead 3-1 and seemingly headed to an easy victory, del Potro roared back to take three straight games.
The Argentinian would then earn three break points in the next game. But after a 22-point struggle, Djokovic held his serve, and would eventually go on to win the second set in a tiebreak to take a commanding two-set advantage.
After the match, Djokovic reflected on his accomplishments, as well as sharing his career with the only two men to win more Grand Slam tournaments than he has.
“Maybe 10 years ago, I would say I’m not so happy to be part of this era with Nadal and Federer,” Djokovic said after the match. “Actually, today I am. I really am. I feel like these guys, rivalries with these guys, matches with Federer and Nadal, have made me the player I am, have shaped me into the player I am today.”
Older Generation Continues to Dominate Tennis
Incredibly, all three of those champions are continuing to dominate tennis despite the fact that they are all in their thirties. Djokovic is the youngest of the three at 31, while Nadal is 32 and Federer is 37, an age at which few players have historically remained competitive. The trio currently hold the top three spots in the world rankings, and the last nine men’s Grand Slam events have been won by players in their thirties.
Del Potro was making his first appearance in a Grand Slam final since he won the US Open in 2009. While the loss was surely disappointing, it still represented a return to form for the 29-year-old, who looks likely to become the next thirty-something star to contend for Grand Slam titles when he celebrates his 30th birthday later this month.
“I’m feeling good,” del Potro said after the match. “I will keep playing tennis for a few more years. I don’t know when will be my last tournament in this career, but I’m excited to keep surprising myself doing things like this. I’m very motivated to keep trying to win these titles.”
After the match, Djokovic was also asked questions about the women’s final, in which Serena Williams was assessed with three code violations by umpire Carlos Ramos, eventually escalating to a game penalty. Williams would go on to lose the match 6-2, 6-4 to Naomi Osaka.
“Everyone was in a very awkward situation yesterday,” Djokovic told reporters, saying that he empathized with both players as well as the umpire. “But I have my personal opinion that maybe the chair umpire should not have pushed Serena to the limit, especially in a Grand Slam final.”