Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Del Potro says Djokovic can be greatest of all time

Juan Martin del Potro Juan Martin del Potro lost to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon semi-finals the last time they met at a Grand Slam in 2013
Cassandra Gardner | 13 September, 2018, 05:15

Novak Djokovic felt like it was a football match as Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro and he locked heads in the men's singles final at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in NY on Sunday.

The 31-year-old, who triumphed in NY in 2011 and 2015, sealed his third title at the final Slam of the year with a hard-earned straight-sets win over the Argentine.

A focused Djokovic continued to apply pressure in the third set until Del Potro finally cracked on serve to fall behind 5-3, with the Serb closing out the match with a ferocious overhead victor.

After seizing an early break in the second set, Djokovic suddenly found himself on the run, dropping three straight games before he dug in to salvage a service hold in a 20-minute marathon game that went to deuce eight times.

Amid increasing noise between points and serves, which prompted frequent interventions from chair umpire Alison Hughes, the previously assured Djokovic - who missed the tournament a year ago due to an elbow injury - appeared agitated. Toshihisa Tsuchihashi, a director of the Japan Tennis Association and general manager of the association's High Performance Department, commented, "There's nothing that would make me happier than for an athlete aiming to reach the pinnacle of a tour to go on to win a gold medal".

After his 14th Grand Slam title, we look at just how incredible Novak Djokovic's resurgence back to the top of the men's game has been since the Australian Open.

After winning the first set 6-3, Djokovic was leading 3-2 in the second set (having broken Del Potro) and was serving to extend his lead to 4-2. Djokovic is tied for third with Pete Sampras for the most career Grand Slam singles titles, behind Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (16). Most predicted the Spaniard as the one most capable of surviving intensely hot, humid conditions as well as night matches that stretch into the early-morning hours at the year's final Grand Slam.

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It's del Potro's first major final since he won his only one in the 2009 U.S. Open by beating Roger Federer. "I believe he'll be here again with the champion's trophy".

Del Potro was unable to stop the rejuvenated Djokovic, but there was plenty of love in the air afterwards at Flushing Meadows - where both players praised each other.

Later, after winning a point, Djokovic put that finger to his ear, as if to say, "Who are you cheering for now?!" "I just felt like a whole wave of energy that I was kind of thriving on from that moment onwards".

Djokovic equalled Pete Sampras's tally of 14 major titles when he overcame Juan Martin del Potro in three closely fought sets - 6-3, 7-6, 6-3.

The third and final set almost followed the same script, as Djokovic again broke del Potro to take a 3-1 lead only for the Argentinian to break back and level the set at 3-3. "Today I really am. He's a Grand Slam victor", Djokovic said.

Amidst the searing heat and disturbing humidity of NY for the past two weeks, Djokovic battled through and rose above it all to shine under the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights for the third time.

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