Novak Djokovic 5-3 Juan Martin Del Potro in first set

Novak Djokovic 5-3 Juan Martin Del Potro in first set

Novak Djokovic felt like it was a football match as Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro and he locked heads in the men's singles final at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in NY on Sunday.

Yet Djokovic was ultimately too strong, his ability to counter his opponent's two biggest weapons - Del Potro's serve and forehand - proving key as he triumphed 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 in three hours and 16 minutes.

Djokovic outlasted del Potro to win 6-3, 7-6, 6-3, and although a straight sets win might seem uncomplicated, del Potro had a number of chances, especially in the second set when he had three break points while leading 4-3, in a game that lasted more than 20 minutes.

The tension and fireworks of the Osaka-Williams clash were left behind during a relatively calm and composed baseline battle between two friends and familiar foes who had played each other 18 times, with Djokovic holding a commanding 14-4 edge.

Federer lost in the fourth round in NY, while Nadal retired from his semifinal against del Potro because of a bad right knee.

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A season that started gloomily with elbow surgery after the Australian Open is turning into a brilliant finish for the 31-year-old Serb who has now won three of his last four events including back-to-back majors at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows. "That's what I got from them".

While Djokovic laid on the ground in ecstasy Sunday, del Potro sat in his chair and cried.

The Serbian might be seeded 6th but he's making his 8th US Open final appearance, while Del Potro, seeded third, is only playing in a Grand Slam final for just the second time. "Of course I'm sad because I lose but I'm happy for Novak, you deserved to win", del Potro said.

"I believe he'll be here again with the champion's trophy".

Thankfully, Del Potro's injury woes look to be behind him.

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"I was playing nearly at the limit, all the time, looking for winners with my forehands, backhands, and I couldn't make it", del Potro said, "because Novak (was) there every time".

After three solid service games in the opening set, he threw in two unforced errors to drop serve and the set. Later, after winning a point, Djokovic put that finger to his ear, as if to say, "Who are you cheering for now?!"

Djokovic went on to congratulate Del Potro for his achievements despite all the injury trouble and made a massively sporting gesture by saying he knew Del Potro will stand as champion at this podium one day.

"Difficult times, but you learn through adversity", Djokovic said.

For Djokovic, it was an illustration of him growing into the championships as he took his run of consecutive sets won to 14, stretching back to the second round against Tennys Sandgren. "I try to take the best out of myself in those moments".

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