Novak Djokovic won the US Open in 2011 and heads back to New York this August with a second trophy in his sights. We take a look at Djokovic’s chances of winning the 2014 US Open.
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Djokovic is on top of the world right now. Not only has he captured the Wimbledon title for the second time, beating Roger Federer in the final, and reclaimed the world no. 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal, he has just got married and has a first child on the way. The wrist injury which bothered him during the clay-court season seems to be a thing of the past and he is the bookmakers’ favourite to win the 2014 US Open.
It’s actually surprising that Djokovic has more Wimbledon titles than he has US Open crowns, since the slow hard courts of Flushing Meadows are more suited to the Serb’s game than the SW19 grass. Djokovic may only have won the US Open once, in 2011 when he defeated Federer and Nadal in back-to-back matches, but it was the site of his first Grand Slam final back in 2007 – the first of four occasions on which he has contested the final, losing to Federer in 2007, Murray in 2012 and Nadal in 2010 and 2013. It’s been four years, in fact, since the US Open final hasn’t featured Djokovic, who exited in the semifinals in 2009, and he hasn’t lost before the semifinals since 2006.
It’s easy to see why Djokovic is the bookmakers’ favourite to capture the biggest prize at the last Grand Slam of the year. The Serbian player reclaimed the top spot in the ATP World Tour rankings from Rafael Nadal in stunning style when he defeated Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final, claiming his first Grand Slam for 18 months and effectively quieting speculation about his inability to deliver in Grand Slam finals.
Djokovic had won only one of the last six Grand Slam finals he contested heading into the Wimbledon final and when he was unable to serve out the match in the fourth set, it seemed that this one might slip away from him too in the most devastating fashion as Federer saved a match point and came back from 2-5 down to force the match into a fifth set. With the partisan crowd firmly behind Federer and the 17-time Grand Slam champion pushing hard on Djokovic’s serve in the early stages of the fifth set, everything seemed to be going Federer’s way – but Djokovic stood firm, held serve and went on the attack, converting his second match point to claim the Wimbledon title and provide an emphatic answer to whether he still had the mentality of a champion.
A wedding to longtime girlfriend Jelena Ristic followed in his native Serbia and, with the couple expecting their first child in October, Djokovic should be refreshed and raring to go when he returns to action at the Rogers Cup on 4 August.
It took a sensational performance from Rafael Nadal to stop Djokovic from claiming the title in 2013, as the Spanish player, then ranked 4, won back-to-back titles in Toronto and Cincinnati before subduing Djokovic in a four-set final as he made his way back from an enforced absence due to injury. But the situation is very different in 2013 for both Djokovic and Nadal. The defending US Open champion was still imperious at Roland Garros but has looked vulnerable elsewhere in 2014, losing his only hard-court meeting with Djokovic fairly tamely 3-6, 3-6; Djokovic captured the Indian Wells-Miami double in March and although he lost to Nadal at the French Open, those memories will have been effectively erased by his Wimbledon triumph.
Djokovic found himself playing second fiddle to Nadal during the US Open Series in 2013. Twelve months later, he looks ready to reverse that situation and dominate the summer hard-court season and the last Grand Slam of the year.