Novak Djokovic wins Third US Open for 14th Major Title Equaling Pete Sampras on All-Time List
(September 9, 2018) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Novak Djokovic joined elite company on Sunday. The Serbian tied Pete Sampras on the all-time major winners list when he beat No. 3 Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-3 for his third US Open title, for his 14th major title. He’s has won two majors this year – just two months ago he won his third Wimbledon title.
The No. 6 seed is now tied for third with Sampras on the all-time list, behind Roger Federer with 20 and Rafael Nadal with 17 major crowns.
“Pete, I love you—you’re my idol,” said Djokovic during the trophy ceremony.
“Pete Sampras is one of the biggest legends ever to play the game,” Djokovic said in his news conference. “He was my childhood idol. He was someone I was looking up to. The first actually thing I saw related to tennis on the TV was his first or second Wimbledon championship. That inspired me to start playing tennis.
“There is a lot of significance of me being now shoulder to shoulder in terms of Grand Slam wins with him. It’s truly incredible when you think about it. I watched him win one of his first Wimbledon championships, and I grew up playing and thinking that one day I’ll be able to do what he does. To actually be here, it’s a dream come true.”
“I know that he’s (del Potro) going to be here again, with the champion’s trophy. I really do.”
In the first set both men held serve until the eighth game. The Argentine went up 40-0 on his serve and Djokovic rallied back to break serve. Djokovic closed out the set on his serve.
In the second set, Del Potro fought off a break point to open, but could not hold back the Serb in the third game when he broke the 2009 US Open winner for a 2-1 lead. Del Potro got the break back in the 6th game for 3-3. A love hold put Del Potro up 4-3. In the 20-minute 8th game, Djokovic saved three break points to hold for 4-4. The Argentine held at 30 for 5-4. Set when to a tiebreak. Del Potro took a 3-1 lead in the tiebreak, but three unforced errors, gave Djokovic the tiebreak 7-4. The set lasted 95 minutes.
Djokovic takes the 2nd set after 1 hour and 35 minutes of grueling tennis!
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 9, 2018
The third set saw Djokovic go up a break 3-1, with a point for 4-1, but Del Potro broke back to get back on serve. At 3-3, Del Potro went up 15-30, but Djokovic held for 4-3. Djokovic broke for a 5-3 lead and served out the match.
“If you told me in February this year when I got the surgery that I’ll win Wimbledon, US Open, and Cincinnati, would be hard to believe,” said the champion. “But at the same time there was always part of me that imagined and believed and hoped that I can get back on the desired level of tennis very soon.
“I expected, to be honest, quite frank, after surgery that I’ll be back on a high level quite fast. But, you know, it took me actually three, four months really. In that process, I learned a lot about myself, learned to be patient, which was never really a stronger side of me.
“But at the same time, you know, 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.”
“I was crying till now,” Del Potro said as he began his news conference. “I’m very sad for being a loser today. But Novak deserved to take the trophy. He played a great match, very smart game. I had my opportunities during second and third set.
“But I was playing almost at the limit all the time, looking for winners with my forehands, backhands, and I couldn’t make it because Novak were there every time.
“He’s a great champion. So I’m glad for him.”
He felt the love from the crowd. “You can lose or win a trophy, but the love from the crowd, it’s could be even bigger than the tournament. That’s what I got from them. It will be in the heart for the rest of the life.”
“Novak is too fast,” del Potro said. “His defense are pretty good. But I expected the game like we played today. When you have chances against the top guys, and you couldn’t make it, then they take advantage of the game. It’s really difficult to beat a player like Novak.
“But I did a big effort also, and I’m proud for that.”
The Argentine talked about playing in an era which includes three players winning the most majors.
“Is a big challenge to take these kind of tournaments to them. But also I think we are proud to be close to these legends. I’ve been during all my career learning with Novak, Roger, Rafa, seeing them winning these events very often. It’s amazing. I don’t feel sad that I couldn’t win Grand Slams because of them. I am just one of the guys that have lucky to be in the same era as them, and it’s great.”
Asked about the umpiring controversy during the the women’s final, del Potro said:
“I don’t know what’s can I say about that. I was sad for Serena because she’s a great champion. She gives to this sport a lot. But Naomi deserved to win. She’s a great champion.
“Of course, the final was not the final that everybody expected. But I’m agree that the girls has to be treated as the men’s, win the same money. They made big effort to play these kind of tournaments, and they deserve to has the same treatment as we have.
“Basically Serena is one of the greatest players of the history. I wish all the best to her because she’s so nice. We want to watch her keep playing the slams.”
Djokovic was also asked about the women’s final.
“Look, I love Serena, first of all. I really felt for her yesterday. Tough thing for a chair umpire to deal with, as well. We have to empathize with him. Everyone was in a very awkward situation yesterday. A lot of emotions. Serena was crying. Naomi was crying. It was really, really tough.
“But I have my personal opinion that maybe the chair umpire should not have pushed Serena to the limit, especially in a Grand Slam final. Just maybe changed — not maybe, but he did change the course of the match. Was, in my opinion, maybe unnecessary. We all go through our emotions, especially when you’re fighting for a Grand Slam trophy.
“But I don’t think it’s time and place really to get into other subjects. I don’t see things as Mr. Simon does. I really don’t. I think men and women are, you know, treated in this way or the other way depending on the situation. It’s hard to generalize things, really. I don’t see it’s necessary really to debate that.
“I just feel like, as Serena said yesterday in the closing ceremonies, Osaka deserves to have her moment. As for Serena, she knows I love her. She really inspires everyone. To see her still being so dedicated and so committed to this sport, it’s inspiring really to me and to many tennis players, both men and women, around the world.”
The match took 3 hours and 16 minutes.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 9, 2018
In 2017 Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both won two major titles, this year it’s Djokovic. With the win, Djokovic’s ranking moves up to No. 3, Del Potro will fall to No. 4.
Del Potro was asked whether Djokovic can pass Federer and Nadal in winning major titles.
“Of course he can,” he said. “He has 14 already. He won two Grand Slam in one year. He’s healthy. He has a great team working with him. Hopefully him, Rafa, Roger is still fighting for Grand Slam, because is so nice to watch them fighting for the history.
“I mean, we just do what we can against them. But Novak has everything to make records in this sport.”
“I was talking about this before, that maybe 10 years ago I would say I’m not so happy to be part of this era with Nadal and Federer,” noted Djokovic. “Actually today I am. I really am. I feel like these guys, rivalries with these guys, matches with Federer and Nadal, have made me the player I am, have shaped me into the player I am today.
“I have utmost respect for what they have achieved on the court, but also the champions, role models they are off the court. I think we have pushed each other to the limit every time we get to play each other. For me, that was always an ultimate challenge: to play Nadal or Federer anywhere.
“I think, you know, I had to figure out early in my career, when I was losing most of the big matches on the Grand Slams against them, what it takes for me to actually kind of improve and develop my game to be able to challenge them, to be able to start winning against them when it matters the most.
“I think that was one of the most important, so to say, moments and periods of my life, my tennis career, my development. I owe it to them.”
With the win, Djokovic is the all-time leader in prize money at over 119 million.
“I love you guys. I’m so happy to be back in the final against this magnificent idol and friend.”
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 10, 2018