New York, September 11
Halfway through a second set that lasted 1 hour, 44 minutes, a test of tenacity as much as talent amid a US Open final as exhausting as it was exhilarating, Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev engaged each other in a 32-stroke point.
It was among many such elongated exchanges between two men whose styles are nearly mirror images, and Djokovic capitulated by netting a backhand. He fell to his back and stayed down, chest heaving. The crowd roared. Djokovic sat up but remained on the ground for a bit. The crowd roared some more, appreciating the effort, saluting the entertainment.
Using every ounce of his energy and some serve-and-volley guile — an old man with new tricks — Djokovic emerged for a 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory over Medvedev at Flushing Meadows to claim a historic 24th Grand Slam title on Sunday night in a match more closely contested than the straight-set score indicated.
“I never imagined that I would be here standing with you talking about 24 Slams. I never thought that would be the reality,” said Djokovic, a 36-year-old from Serbia and the tournament’s oldest male champion in the Open era, which dates to 1968.
“But the last couple of years, I felt I have a chance, I have a shot for history, and why not grab it if it’s presented?”
He moved one major singles title ahead of Serena Williams and is the first player to win 24 in the Open era. Margaret Court also collected a total of 24, but 13 of those came before professionals were admitted to the Slam events.