How hiking helped Djokovic reach greater US Open heights

From 1,042 to US Open final del Potro relishes return to Grand Slam title match

The Serbian has won three U.S. Open titles, and the latest follows up his Wimbledon victory in July.

But off the back of a 24-shot rally, Djokovic broke again for 5-3 and he was within tantalising touching distance of his 14th Grand Slam title, just three months after he had left Roland Garros in despair after a shattering quarter-final exit.

Asked if he had a greater appreciation for winning slams after a hectic few years, Djokovic said on ESPN: "I do".

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after winning his men's Singles finals match against Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina on Day Fourteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 9, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

It's was del Potro's first major final since he won his only one in the 2009 US Open by beating Roger Federer. Del Potro then held at love and had chances for another break on his next opportunity before Djokovic finally held to end a 22-point game that lasted more than 20 minutes.

The second set was a physical one as the two players were on the court for 95 minutes.

Some two hours after the match, del Potro walked out to the players garden to a greeting from his group of about a dozen friends who have led the cheers from his box, supporters from back home he has credited with keeping his spirits up during the depressing days when he was injured. "To be honest, I was crying till now", Del Potro said as he began his post-match press conference. Of course I'm sad to lose but I'm happy for Novak as well. Victory also means that 50 of the last 55 majors have been win by the "Big Four" of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Djokovic is now level on 14 grand-slam titles with Pete Sampras and, in men's terms, behind only Rafael Nadal on 17 and Roger Federer's 20.

"I know people always like to compare any top player's game or performance with some previous season where he was dominating and they've done that with me".

Del Potro was looking at having to become the first man since Pancho Gonzales in 1949 to win the USA title from two sets down.

"I had to kind of disconnect a little bit", said Djokovic.

"I was playing at my limit nearly all the time, looking for winners", he said. Del Potro would not rue how many of those could have been his had he been injury-free all those years.

This time a year ago Djokovic was injured and uncertain about his future direction.

For Djokovic, he got better as the tournament progressed.

But he is a strong candidate for any title when he is fit and the fact he has the most number of victories by anyone over world number one player just goes to show how unsafe he can become when he is without any injury.

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