Novak Djokovic sweeps aside del Potro in US Open final

No doubts anymore Novak Djokovic has returned to tennis elite

Novak Djokovic has drawn level with American great Pete Sampras with the third-most men's grand slam singles titles following a straight-sets victory over Juan Martin del Potro in the US Open final at Flushing Meadows.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates a service break in the 3rd set against Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in the men's final on day fourteen of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

But after his three-hour, 15-minute battle with Del Potro, Djokovic was keen to hail his opponent and friend's effort levels having overcome even tougher injury issues. He now trails Roger Federer's record of 20 by six and is just three behind Rafael Nadal for second all-time.

Djokovic, playing in his eighth final in NY and already the champion in 2011 and 2015, is now just three Slams behind Rafael Nadal and six back from the record 20 held by Roger Federer.

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Djokovic was better than del Potro on their many lengthy exchanges, using his trademark body-twisting, limb-splaying court coverage to get to almost every ball, sneakers squeaking around the blue court in Arthur Ashe Stadium, where the roof was closed because of rain.

Juan Martin del Potro, of Argentina, returns a shot to Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, during the men's final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, in NY.

"I was hoping he's going to be here tonight but I want to say 'Pete, I love you, you're my idol, '" said the Serb.

The Argentine put his admiration aside Sunday and made it hard for Djokovic to gain an edge, despite the score of the first set.

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An eight-time finalist in NY who had only previously lifted the trophy in 2011 and 2015, the Serbian was made to work hard on Sunday as Del Potro came from a break down in the second and third sets. At 1-1 in the second set, Djokovic suffocated Del Potro from the baseline to force out errors from the big man and got an early break. But del Potro broke back, 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.

In the tiebreak, Del Potro looked susceptible to forehand errors and Djokovic showed huge courage and quality to take it away from Del Potro, going up 2-0 in the final.

"Of course I'm sad I (lost)", del Potro said.

It took him some time to find the right form, as evidenced by his quarterfinal loss at the French Open to a guy who was ranked 72nd and had never won a Grand Slam match until that tournament.

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