Sports Xtra

Is Novak Djokovic back to winning ways after a second grand slam in the year?

Written by Christine Dzakah
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Novak Djokovic produced an impeccable performance to beat Juan Martin del Potro in the US Open final and win his 14th Grand Slam title.

The 31-year-old Serb won 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 to earn his third triumph in New York and equal American great Pete Sampras' haul of major trophies.

Djokovic, who won Wimbledon in July, will climb to third in the world after back-to-back Grand Slam victories.

Only great rivals Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (17) have won more.

Fans of Novak who expressed their joy on the various social media platforms are hopeful that their icon who has been inconsistence after his recovering from injury will keep the winning trend after managing a second Grand Slam in the year.

Argentine third seed Del Potro, 29, was playing his first Grand Slam final since winning the 2009 US Open, having almost quit the game in 2015 because of multiple wrist injuries.

A fairytale finish at Flushing Meadows was not to be, however, as former world number one Djokovic's quality shone through.

Djokovic, who was seeded sixth, is one of only eight men to win the Wimbledon-US Open double and has now accomplished that feat for a third time.

The Serb walloped a forehand volley to safety on his first match point, dropping to the floor and spreading out on his back with his arms and legs outstretched in celebration.

After hugging his great friend at the net, Djokovic jumped into his box to celebrate with his wife Jelena and team. Del Potro broke down in uncontrollable tears on his chair.

"It is not easy to speak right now," Del Potro said on court. "I'm sad because I lose but I'm happy for Novak."

After the controversy surrounding Serena Williams' defeat by Naomi Osaka in Saturday's women's final, a high-quality match between two of the top male players ensured tennis was once again the talking point.

Djokovic had a barren spell between winning the 2016 French Open, where he completed the career Grand Slam, and his fourth triumph at Wimbledon in the summer.

Struggling physically with an elbow injury and seemingly suffering mentally after what he described as "personal problems", he went eight Slams without reaching the semi-finals until Wimbledon.

His performances at the All England Club indicated he was back close to his best and he has shown the same shot-making, stamina and steeliness at Flushing Meadows.

Djokovic, who struggled with the New York humidity in the first two rounds, did not drop a set from the third round onwards.

The Serb had not faced a big server like Del Potro in his run to the final and showed all of his remarkable retrieving skills to frustrate his opponent.

Before the final, Del Potro had seen 41% of his serves unreturned in the tournament.

That figure dropped to 17% in the first set as Djokovic wore him down in some long rallies.

Djokovic had not threatened Del Potro's serve until the eighth game of the match, clinically taking his only break point as the Argentine buckled first.

Del Potro said he felt many of his shots would have been winners against players other than Djokovic.

"I was playing at my limit almost all the time, looking for winners," he said. "But couldn't make them because Novak was there almost every time.

"I took the risks with my forehand because it was the only way to beat this kind of player. My mistakes were because of his level.

"Novak is too fast. His defense is good. It is really difficult to beat a player like Novak."