In an electrifying and physically demanding U.S. Open final, Novak Djokovic clinched his 24th Grand Slam title on Sunday evening. Summoning the final dregs of his stamina and incorporating strategic serve-and-volley cunning, he prevailed over Daniil Medvedev, in a match which ended 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3. However, the match was more contested than this straight-set score implies.
As a 36-year-old Serbian, Djokovic now outpaces Serena Williams by a solitary major singles title, rendering him the first player with 24 victories open era, which started in 1968. Margaret Court netted 24 overall, albeit 13 of those were acquired pre-professional players’ membership within the Slam events.
The second set, lasting 1 hour and 44 minutes, proved a particular trial. It was as much about persistency as skill, and Djokovic seemed on the verge of collapse. Following some of the most grueling points, of which there were numerous, Djokovic would stoop, hands on knees or leaning on his racket for support, or pause to stretch his legs.
His victory over Medvedev was a sweet avenging. The Russian had defeated Djokovic in the 2021 final at Flushing Meadows, effectively ending the latter’s bid for the first men’s calendar-year Grand Slam in over fifty years. The result crowned Djokovic as the oldest male champion in the U.S. Open, open era.
In a humorous exchange during the trophy presentation, Medvedev asked, “What are you still doing here?”
Djokovic’s fourth victory in New York, after having been barred from competition a year prior due to a lack of COVID-19 vaccination, adds to his impressive collection of 10 Australian Open, 7 Wimbledon, and 3 French Open trophies. His 24 Grand Slam titles help extend his lead over other male players. Rafael Nadal, sidelined since January due to a hip issue that necessitated surgery, holds 22 titles while retired Roger Federer finished with 20.
As the match concluded, a respectfully Medvedev tapped Djokovic’s chest during a chat at the net. The Serb enthusiastically tossed his racket aside, raised his arms, before dropping to his knees in prayer-like observation. Afterwards, he sought out his daughter, son, wife, and team for hugs and congratulations.
Shortly afterward, Djokovic sported a shirt with “24” and “Mamba Forever” emblazoned on it– a homage to the late NBA star, Kobe Bryant. To top it off, he wore a white jacket brandishing the same significant number.
Despite a rare fall to Carlos Alcaraz at Wimbledon’s final in July, Djokovic impressively maintained a 27-1 record in the sport’s most prestigious events this season. On Monday, he will ascend to the world No. 1 ranking, surpassing Alcaraz in the process.
Presenting an image of unwavering calm before the final started, Djokovic showed no evidence of nerves, a stark contrast to the tension briefly evident during the semi-finals against the unseeded American Ben Shelton.
His movements were graceful, his stroke impeccable, Djokovic was at his best. Breaking stride, Medvedev seemed somewhat rigid, plagued by inconsistency. But Djokovic stayed on course, displaying all the consistency of a metronome and anticipation of a seer. He scurried across the court, answering each attack with grace and precision as was his style.