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Novak Djokovic wins 3rd US Open title: Serbian great defeats Juan Martin del Potro 6-3 7-6 6-3 to win 14th major title

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 10 Sep 2018
  • Novak Djokovic defeated Juan Martin del Potro 6-3 7-6 6-3 to win third US Open title
  • Djokovic moves level with Pete Sampras on 14 majors, third on the all-time list behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokovic. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for USTA)

Novak Djokovic claimed his third US Open title with a 6-3 7-6 6-3 victory over Juan Martin del Potro on Sunday night.

Djokovic moves up to 14 major titles, level with American, Pete Sampras in third on the all-time list. Only Roger Federer (with 20), and Rafael Nadal (on 17), have won more majors than the great Serbian.

"Pete Sampras is one of the biggest legends ever to play the game," Djokovic said. "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… 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’s US Open success continues a superb recovery from injury, which has now seen him win three of his last four tournaments, including Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and the US Open.
The Serbian had been bothered by an elbow injury for about a year, missing the last six months of 2017, undergoing surgery in January 2018, and struggling for results on his return to the tour. Djokovic dropped out of the top 20 during this time, but he has been back to his best in the last couple of months, and takes his place as the No. 3 player in the world on Monday.

Fresh off winning the Cincinnati title, where he became the first man to win all nine Masters 1000 tournaments, Djokovic arrived Flushing Meadows as a slight tournament favourite, but he made an unconvincing start, taken to four sets by Marton Fucsovics and Tennys Sandgren in the opening two rounds.

Djokovic improved as the US Open progressed, moving through the rest of the fortnight without dropping a set. He defeated Richard Gasquet, Joao Sousa, John Millman, Kei Nishikori and del Potro to win the final major of the year for the third time.

For del Potro, it was a second appearance in a Grand Slam final, his first since that stunning triumph at Flushing Meadows in 2009. After struggling with injuries for the best part of the last decade, the giant Argentine had enjoyed relative fitness over the last year, and had risen to a career-high ranking of No. 3 in the world heading into the US Open. Del Potro lived up to his form, dropping just one set en route the final, but he couldn’t quite take it all the way, and was second-best to Djokovic on Sunday night.

"I'm very sad for being a loser today," said Del Potro. "But Novak deserved to take the trophy. He played a great match, very smart game. I had my opportunities during the 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 was there every time. He's a great champion. So I'm glad for him."

The first seven games went with serve, without any break points, and del Potro looked set to continued that trend when he opened up a 40-0 lead in the eighth game, but Djokovic reeled him in. Playing his best return game of the set, featuring trademark depth, precision, and a stubborn refusal to miss, the sixth seed got the break, and served out the opening set in the next game.

With del Potro floundering in the early stages of the second set, Djokovic kept his foot on the pedal, carving out two break points. Del Potro managed to survive that moment of danger, but he wasn’t so lucky in his next service game, as more baseline genius from Djokovic helped the Serbian to the first break of the set. 

With the match threatening to run away from del Potro, the 2009 champion found second wind. His forehand suddenly found its sting, and roared on by a pro-Argentinean crowd, the big man broke back in the fifth game, following back-to-back forehand errors from Djokovic. At this point, Djokovic was clearly rattled by both the improved quality of his opponent and the partisan crown, and his mood was not helped when del Potro sent down a hold to love to open up a 4-3 lead. Then came the most pivotal juncture of the match…

Del Potro put Djokovic under all sorts of pressure, engineering three break points, and forcing multiple deuces, but he couldn’t quite take his chances, as Djokovic held on in a mammoth 20-minute game. The set went into a tie break, and as Djokovic maintained his solidity, del Potro’s forehand, which had brought him back into the contest, faltered, and Djokovic eventually built a two-set lead, leaving del Potro with the proverbial mountain to climb.

When Djokovic broke in the fourth game of the third set, courtesy some more ridiculous defending, a swift finish looked on the cards, but the Serbian then produced a loose game to allow del Potro back in- the battling Argentine roaring after getting back on serve. He had a slight opening on the Djokovic serve at 3-3 15-30, but he let the Serbian off the hook with two poor forehand errors. That turned out to be his last chance, as Djokovic won the next two games to complete the 6-3 7-6 6-3 victory, falling on his back in delight after his latest conquest.

There is no doubt that the Serbian is now back to his best after his injury problems, and on this form, he is a hard man to beat. Who knows how many more majors he will rake in in 2019?

That question will be answered in the nearest future, but for now, the Djokovic can celebrate another monumental landmark in one of the greatest careers ever compiled in the history of the sport.

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Novak Djokovic wins 3rd US Open title: Serbian great defeats Juan Martin del Potro 6-3 7-6 6-3 to win 14th major title

Novak Djokovic beat Juan Martin del Potro 6-3 7-6 6-3 to win 3rd US Open title.

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