Novak Djokovic is reminded of the tennis history he is making every time he communicates with the media.
Novak is going to be his best version on Sunday, and I have to be the best-ever version of myself if I want to try to beat him Daniil Medvedev
Unsurprisingly as the Serb has made a habit of smashing records out of sight, especially of late with his major rivals, the retired Roger Federer and the resting Rafa Nadal, out of the picture.
The Serb can lay claim to be the Greatest Of All Time if he can seal his 24th Grand Slam singles title by beating Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final at Flushing Meadows.
Success in his 36th major decider at the apt age 36, would draw him level with Margaret Court’s achievement and one ahead of the Open-era milestone he shares with Serena Williams.
But Djokovic believes an attempt to cocoon himself from all that history hype can aid his cause as he seeks revenge over third seed Medvedev who beat him in the 2021 final.
The three-time champion said: “Every time in a Grand Slam final it’s another shot for history. I’m aware of it. Of course, I’m very proud of it.
“But again, I don’t have much time, nor do I allow myself to reflect on these things or think about the history too much in this sense. When I did that in the past, like the ’21 final, I was maybe overwhelmed with the occasion and the opportunity, and I underperformed.
“So I don’t want this to happen again. Will just focus on what needs to be done and tactically prepare myself for that match.”
He accepted part of him will use the opportunity to write more history as fuel.
Djokovic, who defeated American Ben Shelton in the last four, opined his tenth Open final – and first in five years – “could be the last” in a major final.
He said: “At 36, every Grand Slam final could be the last one. So I think I probably value these occasions and opportunities to win another Slam more than maybe ten years ago, because ten years ago I felt like, ‘hey, I still have quite a few years ahead of me’.
“I don’t know how many I have ahead of me now, or how many of the years where I play four Slams in the whole season in front of me.
“So of course, I am aware of the occasion, but I try to approach Sunday’s match as basically any other match with the intention to win, and I’ll play my opponent.
“Knowing that it’s going to be the toughest challenge, without a doubt, not just because it’s a final but also because the last time I faced him in a Grand Slam final I lost.”
Djokovic has only been beaten once in his 27 Slam matches this year while reaching all four finals, winning the Australian and French Opens while losing to Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon decider.
He said: “As I said, many times in the previous years, Grand Slams are the tournaments that still keep me going and motivate me the most to be able to practise hard every day and try to get myself on a level where I can compete with young guys.
“No doubt that the Grand Slams are the biggest objectives that I have. So, I set my schedule so that I can perform at my best in these tournaments, and that’s what has happened again this year.
“I’m obviously over the moon with the results so far in Grand Slams. Playing in all four finals of all four Slams in a season is amazing. It’s the highest achievement I can think about when I start the season. That’s what I dream about, and I really wanted to be in this kind of position.
“There is another match left, so the conversation will be probably even better if I win a title in two days. But whatever happens, I’m extremely proud and content with what I have achieved this year in Grand Slams.”
On Medvedev, Djokovic, who leads their head-to-head 9-5, added: “He is in great shape. I think I’m in very good shape too, so I like my chances.”
Djokovic and Medvedev, who defeated Alcaraz in the semi-finals, have each had one win against the other this year.
But Russian Medvedev has prepared himself for an opponent being in the mood to avenge his 2021 final loss.
The 27-year-old said: “He is always better than previous time he plays. For example, I beat him US Open final; he beat me in Bercy in a great match. Carlos beat him Wimbledon; he beat him in Cincinnati. Novak is going to be his best version on Sunday, and I have to be the best-ever version of myself if I want to try to beat him.
“When he (Djokovic) loses, he’s never the same after. He’s different. It’s just a different mentality. That’s why he has 23 Grand Slams, whatever Masters 1000s, weeks at No. 1. I have to use it knowing that he’s going to be ten times better than he was that day. And I have to be, if I want to still beat him, ten times better than I was that day. That’s what I’m going to try to do.
“If I lose on Sunday, the tournament, it’s like it’s a good tournament but I’m going to be hell disappointed. That’s how tennis is.
“I have hopefully long years of career ahead. And to know I’m capable of doing it on the big stage. Every time you do it one more time, brings more confidence. You know you can do it again. You want to do it again. You want to feel this. And at the same time, what is the most important is to kind of use it but forget about it and go for the next one.”
He added: “I will ‘fight till the end.”