Serbian claims fourth trophy in New York

Novak Djokovic has made history again. 

Two years after suffering a stunning upset to Daniil Medvedev in the final at Flushing Meadows, the Serbian defeated the 27-year-old 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 inside Arthur Ashe Stadium for his 24th major title, tying Margaret Court for the most Grand Slam singles trophies in tennis history.

“To make history of this sport is just something truly remarkable and special,” Djokovic said during the trophy ceremony. “Obviously in every in every possible way, in every possible meaning of the word special. It's hard to describe in words. I had the childhood dream when I was seven, eight. I wanted to become the best player in the world and win the Wimbledon trophy. That was the only thing I wanted.

“But then when I realised that, obviously I started to dream new dreams and set new objectives, new goals. I never imagined that I would be here standing with you talking about 24 Slams.”

Despite showing signs of fatigue, the four-time US Open champion did what he always seems to do under pressure — he found a way to win. The man who will return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on Monday earned a gruelling 104-minute second set, in which he saved a set point, and surged to victory from there.

Two months ago, Djokovic suffered a heartbreaking five-set defeat in the Wimbledon final to Carlos Alcaraz. The Serbian responded to that loss by carrying an intense demeanour upon his return to action in Cincinnati, and he has won all 12 of his matches since. The 96-time tour-level titlist has won three majors in a season four times (also 2011, 2015 and 2021).

Djokovic, who now owns two more majors than Rafael Nadal and four more than the retired Roger Federer, climbed into first place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. He is trying to secure ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone for a record-extending eighth time.

It was an emotional scene when Djokovic received a hug from his daughter, Tara courtside. He then climbed up to his box to embrace the rest of his team and his friend and actor Matthew McConaughey.

"I fell in love with tennis. No one has played tennis in my family before, so it was quite a choice I must say," Djokovic said. "But incredible resilience, just belief from my parents, from all the people around me all these years. My wife my kids, my team, everyone that is there, this is your trophy as much as it is mine. This is your success. I love you."

Daniil Medvedev held a set point in the second set against Novak Djokovic.
Photo: Getty Images

Djokovic won 84 per cent of his 44 net approaches, which exceeded the 43 combined net forays against Ben Shelton in the semis and Taylor Fritz in the quarters.

For the first set and a half of Sunday's final, it seemed Djokovic was in control. But as Medvedev doubled as a wall at the back of the court, the second seed began to tire. Djokovic relied on serve and volley — winning all 11 of his attempts in the second set — to escape trouble. At 6-5, the 2021 champion earned a set point and had an opening down the line for a backhand passing shot, but instead went crosscourt, right at Djokovic, who reflexed a winning volley into the open court.

The last time the pair met at Flushing Meadows, Djokovic was trying to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors in the same season. On that occasion, he was unable to find his best tennis and a surging Medvedev triumphed in straight sets. 

Djokovic showed much better form Sunday. He broke serve in his first return game of the match en route to a 3-0 lead and was locked in from the baseline, where he played aggressively in rallies to prevent his opponent from settling in.

Medvedev did not play poorly early on, but the second seed was just a little sharper in gruelling points. Djokovic did not force his way forward as much as Carlos Alcaraz did on Friday against Medvedev, but he served-and-volleyed to take advantage of his opponent's deep return position five times in the opening set, winning four of those points.

The second set proved a battle of attrition. For the first half of the set, Djokovic continued his impressive ball-striking and changed directions with ease. But from 3-3, the tone of points began to change.

After a 31-shot rally at 3-3, Djokovic fell to the court from fatigue. It was the first sign that the long, physical rallies in the match were wearing on the Serbian. Through two sets, the average rally length was 6.5 shots and Medvedev won points of nine or more shots by a 26-18 margin.

Suddenly Djokovic was moving forward even more, but it seemed the reason he did so was to shorten points rather than as a tactical choice.

Djokovic began using his drop shot far more, bailing out of points to avoid trading blow for blow with Medvedev. The 39-time ATP Masters 1000 champion dug out of trouble at 3-4, saving a break point with a magnificent half volley drop shot. But the more Medvedev dragged out rallies, the feeling of importance at the end of the set increased. Medvedev had a golden opportunity to level the match on his set point, but instead fell behind two sets.

Medvedev tried to rally from two sets down for the third time in his career, but his loss of the second set appeared to deflate his hopes. Djokovic broke early in the set and although he gave it right back — his only service game lost in the match — Medvedev was unable to take advantage. 

"24. I feel like I have not a bad career and I have 20 titles, you have 24 Grand Slams. Wow," Medvedev said. "Congrats to you and your team. You guys are amazing."

Did You Know?
This year’s US Open men’s singles final between Djokovic (36 years) and Medvedev (27) was the oldest in the Open Era at 63 years, nine months. The previous record belonged to the 2022 championship clash between Pete Sampras (31) and Andre Agassi (32).