The early days of Novak Djokovic’s summer left him with some adversity to overcome. He was not merely outplayed by Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final, he was also outfought and outlasted. At the age of 36, after dominating for so much of the past 12 years, a new threat had emerged.
But Djokovic’s greatness has been defined by his ability to rise from difficult losses stronger than before. On Sunday evening in the final of the US Open, his response was predictable and decisive as he held on through countless exhausting rallies to defeat Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3 and win a men’s record-extending 24th grand slam title.
By virtue of winning his first round match at this tournament, Djokovic also ensured that he will regain his place as world No 1 and extend his all-time record to 390 weeks at the top of the ATP rankings. He will return to the top with a bullet. Djokovic is the oldest US Open champion in the Open era, and he has now won the tournament four times. The Serb is also the first man to have won three grand slam titles in a season on four separate occasions.
“I would definitely sign right away the paper if somebody would tell me I would win three out of four and play Wimbledon finals,” Djokovic said.
“There is a little regret that I didn’t win that Wimbledon finals. But, look, in the end of the day, I have so much more to be happier and content with than actually to regret something.”
While a rematch with the Spaniard in the final seemed the likely outcome for much of this tournament, revenge against Medvedev was sweet. In 2021, the last time Djokovic competed in New York, he came to the US Open needing the title to capture a calendar grand slam. Instead, he was dismantled in straight sets by Medvedev in the final. Djokovic’s refusal to take a Covid vaccine meant that he was barred from travelling to the US for last year’s edition.
“I really did my best in the last 48 hours not to allow the importance of the moment and what’s on the line get to my head, because two years ago that’s what happened, and I underperformed and I wasn’t able to be at my best and I was outplayed,” he said.
“So I learned my lesson. My team, my family knew that the last 24 hours, don’t touch me, don’t speak to me about the history of what’s on the line.”