Djokovic wins US Open for 14th ma­jor, ty­ing ‘idol’ Sam­pras

Manteca Bulletin - - Sports -

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. Open fi­nal sud­denly ap­peared to be slip­ping away from No­vak Djokovic. He dropped three con­sec­u­tive games. He was bark­ing at him­self, at his en­tourage, at a crowd vo­cally sup­port­ing his op­po­nent, Juan Martin del Potro. He was, in short, out of sorts.

And then came Sun­day’s piv­otal game, a 20-minute, 22-point epic. Three times, del Potro was a point from break­ing and earn­ing the right to serve to make it a set apiece. Three times, Djokovic steeled him­self. Even­tu­ally, he seized that game — and del Potro’s best chance to make a match of it.

A year af­ter miss­ing the U.S. Open be­cause of an in­jured right el­bow that would re­quire surgery, Djokovic showed that he is un­ques­tion­ably back at his best and back at the top of tennis. His re­turns and de­fense-to-of­fense skills as im­pec­ca­ble as ever, Djokovic col­lected his 14th Grand Slam ti­tle and sec­ond in a row by get­ting through ev­ery cru­cial mo­ment for a 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3 vic­tory over 2009 cham­pion del Potro at Flush­ing Mead­ows.

“There was al­ways part of me that imag­ined and be­lieved and hoped that I can get back (to) the de­sired level of tennis very soon,” said Djokovic, whose op­er­a­tion was in Fe­bru­ary. “But at the same time, life showed me that it takes time for good things, it takes time to re­ally build them, for things to fall into place, so you can cen­ter your­self, bal­ance your­self and thrive. The last two months have been ter­rific.”

This was Djokovic’s third cham­pi­onship in New York, along with those in 2011 and 2015. Add in the tro­phies he has earned at six Aus­tralian Opens, one French Open and four Wim­ble­dons, most re­cently in July, and the 31-year-old Serb pulled even with Pete Sam­pras for the third-most ma­jors among men, trail­ing only Roger Fed­erer’s 20 and Rafael Nadal’s 17.

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