Novak Djokovic equalled the Grand Slam singles record by securing his 24th title when beating Daniil Medvedev in the final of the US Open, in New York.
He took the crown in straight sets winning 6-3 7-6 (7-5) 6-3, although the victory was certainly not as easy as the scoreline might suggest, with the 36-year-old needing to dig deep, particularly in the second set, which lasted an exhausting one hour and 44 minutes.
He has now won three of the four Grand Slams of 2023 – losing the Wimbledon final being his only defeat – and has now become the first man to achieve the feat on four different occasions.
The brilliant Serb has won eight of the past 12 majors he has played at and has once again jumped to number one in the world rankings, replacing Carlos Alcaraz who was his conqueror in London during the summer.
The win puts Djokovic level with Margaret Court’s 50-year record.
Easy first set
To begin with it appeared as though it would be a straightforward task, with Medvedev looking off the pace as Djokovic eased into a 3-0 lead. He continued to play solidly throughout the remainder of the set, and always looking as if he had plenty in reserve.
At one set up he would have been feeling supremely confident as he had only lost one match from a position of being one set up at the US Open, in the 73 previous occasions he’s played there.
That was in the 2016 final against Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka, but there was always a sense that he had no intention of allowing that to happen again.
Knew he was in a game
To the Russian’s credit however, he hung in during the second set which included a mammoth 31-game rally that Medvedev took, leaving Djokovic lying flat on the court in the process.
At this stage the champion seemed to be in a little trouble, but showing all his experience he played the right shots at the right time to force the set into a tie-break. At 5-4 down he looked in a spot of bother again, but he proceeded to take three points on the spin to seal the set.
Tears of a champion
The third set was won with little fuss and with the winning point Djokovic burst into tears as he knelt on the court, before picking out his daughter Tara from the crowd.
More tears followed as he celebrated with family including his wife, son and parents, who during his winning speech, were thanked for all the “sacrifices” made on his behalf when he was a child growing up during the war in Serbia, in the early nineties.
He said: “The odds were pretty much against us, tennis was not accessible or affordable”. He dedicated the trophy to: “My wife, my kids, my team” saying it was theirs as much as his.
“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,” he said philosophically.
Tribute to friend
In a touching moment he also pulled on a T-shirt which paid tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his friend who was killed in a helicopter crash in 2020 and wore 24 in his playing days.
Record opportunity at favourite tournament
He now has the chance to claim the record for himself in Australia in January, at a tournament where he has already won a record 10 titles.
Some might have written him off after Wimbledon, indeed many remarked at the time that it was a changing-of-the-guard moment in the men’s game. He will see this victory as proof that even in the twilight of his career, he is still very much the man to beat.