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Novak Djokovic Wins US Open, 24th Grand Slam Title (Ties All-Time Record for Men or Women)

Novak Djokovic US Open

For years, no one compared the number of Grand Slam titles the best men had to the best women. After all, it was no contest. In the early 2000s, two women had over 20 Grand Slam titles (Margaret Court with 24 and Steffi Graf with 22), with three others close to it (Helen Wills Moody with 19, Martina Navratilova and Chrissie Evert with 18). The men’s record? Pete Sampras won his 14th in 2002.

But, of course, Roger Federer began rewriting the men’s records books shortly after that, with Rafael Nadal close behind him. And then Novak Djokovic came along, gobbling up all of their records, and more. Federer ended his illustrious career with 20 Major titles. Nadal is sitting on 22 as he prepares for likely the final season of his career. And now Djokovic has matched the magical number of 24–and he looks like he might still have plenty more in him.

US Open Final: Novak Djokovic def. Daniil Medvedev

These two met in the US Open final two years ago, with Djokovic chasing the historic feat of a Calendar Year Grand Slam (winning all four Major titles in 2021). And while three women have achieved such a feat (Court, Graf, and Maureen Connolly), Rod Laver is the only man to ever achieve such a milestone. Medvedev denied Djokovic then, in a match where the Serbian, uncharacteristically, looked somewhat nervous.

This year, Djokovic would have no pressure of chasing the Grand Slam, as Carlos Alcaraz defeated him in the Wimbledon final. Meanwhile, this was Medvedev’s first Grand Slam final since that 2021 triumph. Would he be able to repeat? Or would Djokovic continue his march on history? That’s what everyone wanted to know before the match started, and those questions were answered very quickly.

First Two Sets

The opening set was, honestly, not particularly interesting. Djokovic came out firing, breaking Medvedev early. The Russian wasn’t quite settled in, and his backhand was a liability at the start. As the set progressed, Medvedev actually began to come out ahead in the longer rallies, and he looked fresher than Djokovic. Still, he couldn’t touch the Djokovic serve, and that meant that the early break carried all the way through the end of the set.

The second set was where things got interesting. Djokokvic had opportunities to break early, but couldn’t quite capitalize. Meanwhile, Medvedev got a little less aggressive, playing with more margin and looking for wicked angles. As the match settled in, rallies got longer. There were a few early moments where that seemed to trouble Djokovic, but play progressed. Midway through the set, however, things got rough for the all-time great. After a brutal rally with Medvedev serving at 3-3, Djokovic momentarily fell to the court, seemingly exhausted. He showed numerous signs of physical ailment during that and the following game, though he managed to hold for 4-4. But he was trying to end rallies earlier, coming into net at the earliest opportunity or drawing Medvedev in with drop shots. It was very clear that physically, the 36-year-old Djokovic couldn’t stay in long baseline rallies forever.

Those two games in the middle of the set were the low point, though. Djokovic was still visibly stretching after long rallies and trying to shorten the points, but he seemed to have found a better rhythm to tolerate the heavy game. He held serve the rest of the set, forcing a tiebreak. With the set over an hour-and-a-half long, and Djokovic struggling, the tiebreak felt pivotal.

Medvedev jumped to an early mini-break, but Djokovic earned it back. Medvedev was still getting the better of the extended rallies, yet Djokovic seemed far more capable at utilizing variety. He was able to switch gears from point-to-point, in one peppering backhands nonstop to the Medvedev backhand, while in others using slice approaches to get to net. Djokovic took the tiebreak in the end with a great return, and now Medvedev had a huge hill to climb to win it all.

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Third Set

Medvedev seemed confident and ready heading into the third set. If he was troubled by losing a set he probably should have won, he didn’t show it. But it didn’t help, either. Djokovic held his first two service games of the set, and Medvedev was a little loose in his second game, which was all it took. Djokovic broke for 3-1, and was just three holds away from Grand Slam title number 24. It wouldn’t be so simple, though, as a rough game of his own meant Djokovic handed the break right back.

Djokovic immediately turned things up a notch, breaking Medvedev. And this time, his own serve didn’t falter. He held easily for 5-2. It was slightly less easy after Medvedev opened the final service game with a return winner, but Djokovic took care of business from there (after throwing in a double fault, too), earning a 63 76(5) 63 win, and his fourth US Open title.

After a tumultuous 2022, where Djokovic couldn’t play in the Australian Open or the US Open due to his vaccination status, his 2023 has turned out just like his 2021 did. 27-1 in Grand Slam matches, with three titles and one runner-up. Djokovic has now won 24 titles in his 72 career Grand Slam tournaments. Quite simply, he has won one out of every three Majors he has contested. In his entire career. (He has reached the final in a full half of them–36 out of 72.)

Djokovic keeps adding to his records, including career Major semifinals and oldest player to ever win the US Open.

Medvedev, meanwhile, is still one of the best players in the world. If Djokovic (and Nadal a few years ago) wasn’t in his way, he likely would have won at least three Majors by now. He has reached five finals, and is showing no signs of stopping. We know he can beat Carlos Alcaraz in the biggest of matches, so whenever the time comes that Djokovic can’t compete anymore, Medvedev will be right there to take his place. And don’t let the straight sets fool you. This match was close–Medvedev can beat Djokovic moving forward, too. These two, along with Alcaraz, obviously, will be the ones to watch heading into 2024.

Main Photo Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports


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