Juan Martin del Potro may have been the sentimental favorite in Sunday's US Open men's final, but Novak Djokovic paid no attention to that on court as he beat the injury ravaged Argentine to collect a historic Grand Slam title.
After a 2017 season in which Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal left tennis fans blinking in disbelief at their ability to turn back time and own majors as if they were in their 20s, Djokovic closed 2018 with a dominant performance against Juan Martin del Potro to claim his third U.S. Open title - and first since 2015.
Djokovic's victory, coupled with his July triumph at Wimbledon, ties him with Pete Sampras for the most men's Grand Slam singles titles. Del port has backed Djokovic to surpass Federer's mark of 20 Grand Slams.
Not only had she entered the history books as the first Japanese Grand Slam victor, but she achieved the feat with victory over Williams - her childhood idol - in extraordinary circumstances. It suddenly looks possible again that he can bridge the gap to Nadal and Federer, doesn't it?
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Djokovic and Del Potro walked on Arthur Ashe Stadium court with the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center still buzzing over the controversial women's final on Saturday, won by Japan's Naomi Osaka after Serena Williams incurred three code violations.
And, at the age of 31, Djokovic appears to have the time - and crucially, the fitness levels - to push much higher up the list before his career concludes. Her mother Tamaki, meanwhile, shed tears with her daughter in the stands as they hugged each other following her victory, which gave her the honor of becoming the first Japanese to win a Grand Slam singles tennis title.
Djokovic faced neither of his greatest rivals en route to the title in Flushing Meadows. Nadal was two sets down when he shook his head and said he had to retire.
Djokovic would have relished taking on either - or both, although he admits that early in his career that wasn't always the case.
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"I had my opportunities during second and third set". 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. On what we have seen since he hit the grass at Queen's Club it would be hard to argue against making him the favourite for the Australian Open - four months before the tournament starts. "I think that's why people love him".
"Oh, yeah, for me, absolutely", Whitaker said.
Djokovic collects $3.8 million and his third U.S. Open championship. "Of course I'm sad because I lose but I'm happy for Novak, you deserved to win", del Potro said.
Djokovic said it was the kind of heavyweight clash he's learned to embrace.
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