Novak Djokovic hugged his children, kissed his wife Jelena and paid homage to basketball legend Kobe Bryant after his historic 24th Grand Slam triumph. In a colorful T-shirt printed with a picture of the icon, who died in 2020, the most successful tennis player in history celebrated his fourth US Open title and the next records.
The 36-year-old Serb defeated Daniil Medvedev in the final on Sunday (local time) 6:3, 7:6 (7:5), 6:3 and successfully took revenge for the final defeat against the Russian two years ago in New York. Djokovic was crowned the oldest US Open winner in the professional era and, after winning Grand Slam titles, caught up with Australian Margaret Court, who holds the record among women.
"Making history in this sport is extraordinary and very special. I had a childhood dream and wanted to become the best player in the world. I never imagined standing here and talking about 24 Grand Slams," Djokovic said in his victory speech and emphasized the special importance of Bryant for him: "Kobe was a close friend. We talked a lot about winning mentality when I had injury problems." The death of Bryant and his daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash affected him deeply.
By winning ahead of Hollywood stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman and pop stars Sting and Justin Timberlake, Djokovic today overtook the Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz as number one in the world rankings and is entering his 390th week at the top.
The 27-year-old Medvedev has to wait for his second triumph in a Grand Slam tournament after the defeat in 3:17 hours. In 2021, he beat Djokovic in three sets in the US Open final, thereby preventing him from becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four Grand Slam tournaments in one year.
“This is our third Grand Slam final, probably not our last,” congratulated Medvedev. "I don't know when you plan on slowing down. 24 - I feel like I don't have a bad career and I have 20 titles and you have 24 Grand Slams."
“I definitely don’t want this to happen again,” Djokovic announced before the game, remembering 2021. And as in the final two years ago, the spectators were once again clearly on the Serb's side, cheering him loudly as he arrived.
The favorite started immediately with the highest level of concentration and immediately took his opponent's first service game to zero. Unusually often, Djokovic stormed directly to the net with his serve in the initial phase, immediately putting Medvedev under pressure. The Russian fought his way into the game, and long baseline duels developed again and again - with 36 shots, the two delivered the longest rally of the tournament.
But Djokovic still played largely flawlessly. After 47 minutes, a backhand from Medvedev flew out of bounds to lose the first round. Frustrated, the Russian packed his bag and disappeared for the cabin break.
After that, Medvedev was finally there and equal. The games lasted longer and longer and the rallies became more and more spectacular. Wearing dark sunglasses and a black cap, DiCaprio looked on from pride of place and mouthed a "Wow." When the score was 3: 3, Djokovic simply fell over after Medvedev had won a point and lay exhausted on the ground for a moment. When changing sides, the seven-year-old professional raised his arms and gasped.
But as so often, Djokovic found the extra gear that makes him so feared and unique. He fended off a set point and in the tie-break he scored the last three points in a row to win the second set, which lasted a total of 105 minutes. Djokovic thus increased his record in tie-breaks this year to 26: 5 - the Serb's mental strength is unmatched even at 36.
Before the third set, Medvedev, bare-chested, had his right shoulder massaged and groaned in pain. When the Russian slipped after a rally, Djokovic climbed over the net and wanted to help his opponent up. Medvedev refused. At her husband's first break, Jelena jumped up to applaud. Even though Medvedev continued to fight, Djokovic was able to celebrate another piece of tennis history a little later.