US Open | Djokovic seals return to fitness with overall victory
Novak Djokovic secured his third US Open title and 14th grand slam crown with a straight-sets win over Juan Martin del Potro.
While the tennis world was still reeling over Serena’s Williams’ undignified outburst the previous day resulting in her receiving a pittance $17,000 fine, the Serbian’s 6-3 7-6(4) 6-3 success was somewhat overshadowed. The victory nonetheless, now places him level with Pete Sampras as regards majors won, three behind Rafa Nadal plus another three behind Roger Federer’s record of 20.
I guess we’ll be hiking some more very soon Novak Djokovic
It was Djokovic’s eighth final in the Big Apple which he had conquered just twice before, in 2011 and 2015. More importantly it is now clear that this former world No.1 is back to full fitness, both physically and mentally, having now fully overcome the problems which followed the surgery to his elbow last February.
It was also the third time that the 31-year-old has completed the Wimbledon-US Open double.
Hs journey back to full fitness has had its ups and downs but when he reunited with his original mentor Marion Vajda, things finally fell in place though not before his disastrous quarter-final loss at the French Open.
“I felt like I was so close to the desired level, and then I just completely underplayed that match,” he recollected. “I had to disconnect a little bit. I went hiking with my wife for five days in the French mountains. We just isolated ourselves and took things from a different perspective.
“We sat down and we just looked at the world from that perspective, breathed in the new inspiration, new motivation,” he continued. “I thought of tennis, thought of the emotion that tennis provokes in me. It was all positives. I just felt like I had a new breath for this sport.
“Ever since then, the tennis is completely different for me. In terms of results, I played finals of Queen’s, won Wimbledon, won Cincinnati, and won US Open.”
He added: “I guess we’ll be hiking some more very soon.”
With the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof closed for the second consecutive evening as heavy rain swept New York, the conditions in the arena were slow and sluggish.
Djokovic, playing in his 23rd final at the majors, made his break through against the powerful DelPo serve in the eighth game, pocketing the set in the next, only the second to be dropped by the Argentine during the tournament.
The players were engrossed in several extensive and lung-busting rallies throughout the match which Djokovic survived thereby confirming that his fitness levels were now definitely at the levels which he had when he dominated the game.
Djokovic was quickly 3-1 up in the second set before Del Potro finally broke the Serbs serve. He had three more chances to break in the eighth game, all saved by Djokovic in a marathon 20-minute game which had the spectators enthralled.
The effort took its toll on DelPo who finally conceded the 95-minute set in the tiebreak leaving himself with the task of winning the final from two sets down.
Looking weary, DelPo did manage to recover a break back in the third but after losing a 24-shot rally, Djokovic broke again for 5-3 and applied the final coup de grace.
There was disappointment for Del Potro who was playing his second final at the US Open, nine years after he was crowned champion before a long battle with wrist injuries pushed him into depression and to the brink of retirement.
“I was so happy to be playing the final against this magnificent idol,” said Del Potro of his friend Djokovic. “Of course, I’m sad to lose but I’m happy for Novak as well. You deserve to win.”
“When I had my surgery I could truly understand what Juan Martin was going through when he had surgeries that kept him away from the tour for two or three years,” added Djokovic.
The result proves that the Big Four are still the players to beat though currently Andy Murray is still recovering from his own injury and rehabilitation problems. With the Next Gen players still to make a mark at the majors, it means that of the last 55 majors contested, 50 of them have been won by a member of that select group, namely Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray.