Novak Djokovic leaves Rafael Nadal behind by joining Pete Sampras’ unique US Open record

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have shared memorable matches together. They formed the ‘Big 3’ with Roger Federer, and together, the three players competed in the golden era of tennis. Times are changing for the three titans of tennis, though, as Federer has retired and Nadal is plagued with injuries while not getting any younger.

Novak Djokovic, on the other hand, is far from done with the sport, as he is exceeding and destroying expectations with every match that he plays. His 2023 season, at the age of 36, has been so spectacular that one begins to doubt if the man ages physically at all! He has shattered records with his victories, and in one particular instance, has left his Spaniard rival far behind in terms of achievements in tennis.

Djokovic matches Sampras’ record with a 12-year gap between US Open titles

Novak Djokovic’s recent US Open triumph levelled his grand slam title tally with Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 majors. He thus moved two away from Rafael Nadal’s count.

Another significant milestone reached by the Serbian is that he equalled Pete Sampras’ record of having a 12-year gap between the first and last US Open titles. Rafael Nadal holds a 9-year gap between his crowns, the first being in 2010 and the last in 2019.

Novak Djokovic was in prime form in the US Open, dropping only two sets on his road to being crowned champion. He thwarted Daniil Medvedev’s attempt at repeating the 2021 US Open final result and won 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 in a humid night in New York.

After a tepid first set, Medvedev fought back hard in the second. However, Novak Djokovic showed yet again why he was a master at comebacks when he saved a set point and overturned the tiebreak deficit to win the second. Eventually, his Russian opponent ran out of steam in the third set and Djokovic marched to the finish line in style.

The title was Djokovic’s fourth US Open crown and he has reached 10 finals in the last 18 seasons.

While his cohorts from the golden era are looking towards life post-tennis, Djokovic is busy proving why his mental abilities and physical prowess make him one of the best players in the history of the game.

Novak Djokovic won first US Open in 2011 by defeating Rafael Nadal

The early 2010s produced the best out of the Djokovic-Nadal rivalry. Rafael Nadal’s last two seasons, prior to the US Open final, were incredibly successful. He had won three grand slams in 2010 and one in 2011. Djokovic’s season was no different with two grand slam victories in 2011. Thus, their meeting in the final of the 2011 US Open was a blockbuster clash of the highest order.

It was rematch of the previous season’s final and Novak Djokovic produced a masterclass performance to seal the match 6–2, 6–4, 6–7(3–7), 6–1.

This was his first US Open title and fourth major title overall. A crestfallen Nadal acknowledged his opponent’s knack of producing comebacks in the post-match interview.

“Novak is doing incredible things. So, well done to your team. I tried to play aggressive, but he always comes back. I have won against him in the past but he has won a lot against me this year.”, he said.

“It sounds unreal. It’s an incredible feeling. Every time I play Rafa, it’s a big challenge. I wish we have many more tough matches in the upcoming year.”, Djokovic said.

The Novak Djokovic juggernaut keeps rolling on. Another season, another incredible run. What are your opinions on his new record? Let us know in the comments section below.


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