New York, NY – September 9, 2018: Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns ball during men’s single final of US Open 2018 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (Photo: Lev Radin/Gildshire)
The players at this year’s U.S. Open tennis tournament had a lot to overcome. Scalding heat took its toll, especially in the first week. Controversy erupted in the women’s final, as everyone took sides on Serena Williams’ dustup with court officials. Eventual men’s winner Novak Djokovic had his own distractions. At one point, Djokovic was barking at even his own supporters. At the end of the day, though, The Joker overcame what ailed him and won his third U.S. Open title, and 14th Grand Slam tournament overall. The final tally was 6-3, 7-6, 6-3.
It has been quite a road traveled by Mr. Djokovic. It was exactly one year ago that he missed the last US Open due to an injury to his right elbow that ultimately required surgical repair. The recovery from elbow problems is arduous for any athlete, but none more than a professional tennis player. Djokovic toiled for many lonely hours regaining his strength, swing, and follow-through.
Sunday, at Flushing Meadow, it all became worth it forever. Djokovic showed that he’s unquestionably back on top of his game, and standing on the pinnacle of the tennis world. His returns were crisp and his transitions from defense to offense skills were impeccable for most of the match.
In some ways, it was during Djokovic’s three-game losing streak to del Potro in the second set that the course of the rest of the afternoon was set. The pivotal game would take 20 minutes to play, and three times del Potro was just one point from breaking Djokovic’s serve to seize the set. But, even with the assembled crowd firmly behind his opponent, Djokovic steeled his jaw and righted the ship. The exhaustion of the second set showed on del Potro’s face, and the third set turned out to be little more than a formality.
The victory on the hard courts of New York was significant to Djokovic’s legacy. This title, along with his U.S. Open championships in 2011 and 2015 are just part of his story. He has six Australian Opens, four Wimbledon’s and a French Open to his credit. That ties him with Pete Sampras who is Djokovic’s stated tennis idol, for third-place all time. Only Roger Federer’s 20 G.S. wins, and Rafael Nadal’s 17 are ahead of him.
As for Juan Martin del Potro, this defeat was a bitter pill to swallow. The loss had him in tears and receiving consolation from the man who had just vanquished him. Mr. del Potro knew that the tie-break loss was due to his own mistakes, as he hit one ball into the net and sailed another one wide right. Sunday evening, he was left to wonder if it all would have worked out for him if not for those two errors. But, with high-reward opportunities comes high-risk, and Juan Martin del Potro would know the consequences of risk as the light began to fade on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Del Potro spoke earlier in the week about 2015 when he was at his lowest point and considering ending his dream of playing championship tennis. But supported by friends and family to continue his quest for success, he climbed back up the ladder to a lofty ranking, reaching Number Three in the world. In fact, del Potro’s current standing as fourth in the world will not be harmed by losing in the finals of the U.S. Open. He can remember that as he leaves New York.
But, that is fodder for another day, when del Potro needs motivation on a cold morning to get out of bed and hit 1,0000 tennis balls. For today, it is the agony that is Juan Martin del Potros and the ecstasy that is Novak Djokovic’s that is the news.
Gildshire Magazines says goodbye to the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament. We have enjoyed offering first-hand coverage of the tournament to you, as our Lev Radin was on site with his magic viewfinder offering the finest in photography. We will return next year to bring more on-the-spot action from the world of Grand Slam tennis.