Novak Djokovic won a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title by outlasting Daniil Medvedev in a punishing US Open final in New York. The 36-year-old Serb won 6-3 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 but the straight-set scoreline does not tell how deep he had to dig.
A comfortable opening set was followed by a brutal second which lasted one hour and 44 minutes. After the pair exchanged breaks early in the third, Djokovic took control to level Margaret Court’s 50-year record.
“It obviously means the world to me,” said Djokovic on winning his 24th major.
“I’m really living my childhood dream to compete at the highest level in this sport, which has given me and my family so much from difficult circumstances.
“I never thought I would be here but the last couple of years I thought I had a shot at history. Why not grab it when it is presented?”
Second seed Djokovic looked physically troubled in that gruelling second set, but showed all the hallmarks of his greatness to win a fourth US Open title.
Djokovic, who surpassed Rafael Nadal’s record tally of 22 men’s major titles earlier this year, has matched Australia’s Court at the second attempt after losing the Wimbledon final in July.
He has won 3 of the 4 Grand Slam titles in 2023, becoming the first man to achieve this feat on 4 occasions.
Now the incoming world number one has the chance to surpass Court at January’s Australian Open – where he has already won a record ten titles.
It felt fitting that Djokovic set up championship point by winning another lengthy rally and, after being made to wait to serve by shouts from the crowd, sealed victory when Medvedev hit a forehand into the net.
“I would definitely sign right away the paper if somebody would tell me I would win 3 out of 4 and play Wimbledon finals this year,” Djokovic said.
“There is a little regret that I didn’t win that Wimbledon final. But, at the end of the day, I have so much more to be happier and content with than actually to regret something.”
When Djokovic lost to twenty year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final it felt like a changing-of-the-guard moment in the men’s game. But, even in the twilight of his career, Djokovic continues to show he can never be written off.
Djokovic has won 8 of the past twelve majors he has played at and will replace Alcaraz again as the world number 1 on Monday.
“It’s not my interest or business to really review what everyone talks about or thinks, whether there is a passing of the torch, or whatever you want to call it, happening or not happening in the sport,” he said.
“I focus on what I need to do and how I get myself in an optimal state so that I can win the biggest trophies in our sport. That’s what I care about.”
Djokovic was dialled in from the start of Sunday’s final, playing patiently and precisely to break for a 2-0 lead, with Medvedev looking ragged as he fell 3-0 behind.
With Medvedev deep behind the baseline when receiving, Djokovic smartly decided to serve-volley on his way to 4-1 – a tactic he employed throughout – and showed his all-round quality to close out the opening set.
Djokovic had only lost from a set up at the US Open once on 73 previous occasions, against Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka in the 2016 final.
The constant pressure led to another break point for Djokovic in the seventh game, but Medvedev hung on to hold as Djokovic tumbled on to the court after an energy-sapping 31-shot rally.
Something appeared to be troubling Djokovic physically as he held a long game for 4-4 and survived Medvedev’s first break point of the match.
The Russian third seed was sticking longer in the rallies now, pushing Djokovic to his limits and creating a set point at 6-5 which the Serb saved with another serve and volley.
But Djokovic eventually got over the line to ensure a marathon set would be settled by a tie-break.
Medvedev led 5-4 when a stunning 23-shot point eventually went his way despite Djokovic’s doggedness, only for the veteran to lock in again and win the next 3 points for a 2-sets-to-love lead.
It was clear to see Medvedev had needed to level by taking that second set to stand any real chance of victory and the feeling of the inevitable was heightened by the Russian needing treatment on a shoulder injury before the third set.
He offered resistance by putting it back on serve at 3-2, but Djokovic broke again immediately and confidently clinched another famous win.