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Novak Djokovic closing in on third U.S. Open title: Three reasons why the Serbian superstar will beat Juan Martin del Potro

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 8 Sep 2018
  • Novak Djokovic is one win away from a third U.S. Open crown
  • We outline three seasons why the Wimbledon champion will make it back-to-back slam victories
Novak Djokovic (Photo by Jaime Lawson/Getty Images for USTA)

Novak Djokovic has a third U.S. Open title in his sights as he prepares to face Juan Martin del Potro in the final on Sunday - read on below as we outline three key reasons why the Wimbledon champion will make it back-to-back major triumphs.

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The aura of invincibility is returning


During his career-best 2015 season and the first half of 2016 when he became the first man to hold all four major titles simultaneously since Rod Laver in 1969, there was a sense that Djokovic was almost unbeatable every time he stepped out on court. And that’s because- for the most part - he was. Djokovic made the final of all six Grand Slams from the 2015 Australian Open until the 2016 French Open and won five of them, including four straight from Wimbledon 2015 to Roland Garros 2016. Nobody could beat him on the biggest stages and a small part of that was due to Djokovic’s aura - his opponents almost knew before walking out onto the court that they would be returning to the locker room on the wrong side of the scoreline. I’m definitely not saying del Potro will be intimidated or overawed on Sunday, but if push comes to shove, will the Argentine back his power game to break through the brick-wall defence of Djokovic? The 13-time major champion is very quickly becoming the man again - and make no mistake about it, that aura is returning swiftly.

Djokovic has never lost to del Potro in a Grand Slam

Serbias Novak Djokovic celebrates his U.S. Open semi-final win (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Four times Djokovic and del Potro have squared off in a Grand Slam final and four times the Serbian has emerged triumphant. Granted, they haven’t met at a major since Wimbledon in 2013, but that 4-0 record in Djokovic’s favour doesn’t surprise me at all. Why? Because del Potro’s aggressive game is much harder to sustain over the best-of-five sets than best-of-three. While del Potro can easily catch fire and win two out of three sets against Djokovic, claiming three out of five is a whole different ball game. It gives more time for Djokovic to work his way into the match and weather any potential storm that the Argentine sends down his side of the court. In short, del Potro will have to play a near-perfect match in order to beat the Djokovic we saw meticulously pick apart Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals. Del Potro obviously has more weapons and ways to hurt Djokovic than Nishikori, but his movement and defence isn’t as good. Djokovic is going to make del Potro hit that extra ball, and over the course of five sets when fatigue becomes a factor - just as it did in the Wimbledon semi-finals for the Argentine against Nadal - it will take del Potro operating at the absolute peak of his powers, and possibly beyond, to emerge victorious.

Djokovic’s game can still go to another level


While watching Djokovic ease past Nishikori, I couldn’t help but think the Serbian was preserving himself for the final. There wasn’t any stage of the match where I felt Djokovic looked uncomfortable or not 100 per cent assured of winning. From first point to last he dominated, all while never really getting out of second gear. The fact that Djokovic only granted Nishikori nine games in three sets while seemingly holding back is scary. Del Potro will certainly earn more free points than Nishikori and he can thus build scoreboard pressure and force Djokovic into more uncomfortable situations, but all signs point to the two-time U.S. Open champion solving all the problems thrown at him. Djokovic’s backhand is back to his brilliant best and he can break down del Potro’s weaker backhand as a result, while his unrivalled defence will make it extremely challenging for the third seed to consistently break through that barrier. He’s endured his fair share of U.S. Open heartbreak, losing five of his seven finals, but it’s Djokovic’s time again - and I think he could be about to go on a run of dominance similar to 2015/16.


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Novak Djokovic closing in on third U.S. Open title: Three reasons why the Serbian superstar will beat Juan Martin del Potro

Novak Djokovic has a third U.S. Open title in his sights as he prepares to face Juan Martin del Potro in the final on Sunday - read on below as we outline three key reasons why the Wimbledon champion will make it back-to-back major triumphs.

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