Novak Djokovic earned his 14th career Grand Slam title—and second in a row—with a 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-3 victory over Juan Martin del Potro in the 2018 U.S. Open final.
While nearly each game was competitive, Djokovic won the key points to win in straight sets Sunday at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York.
The No. 6 seed got off to a slow start in this tournament but won his previous four matches in straight sets heading into the final. He was then able to close things out with an easy win over the 2009 U.S. Open champion.
The victory also helped his historic standing in the sport:
Djokovic wasn't at his best with the serve against the Argentine, finishing with just one ace to go with two double faults while making only 63 percent of his first serves. He made up for it by being aggressive at the net (27-of-36) and winning points on break opportunities (4-of-7).
It was a battle from the very beginning, with the servers doing all the damage in the first set.
There was only one break point, which Djokovic won in the eighth game, to give himself a 5-3 advantage. He closed out the 6-3 set win thanks to several long rallies, many of them ending with a del Potro unforced error.
There was a lot more drama in the second set, with Djokovic gaining an early advantage with this backhand winner:
His lead didn't hold, though, as del Potro showed the ability to cover nearly the entire court:
Djokovic eventually came through in a tiebreak to win a second set that featured a 20-minute game and lasted one hour and 35 minutes overall.
This gave the former No. 1 player in the world the commanding lead, although the match was much closer than the score. Steve Tignor of Tennis Magazine described the play:
It was more of the same in the third set, as each player earned a break to sit 3-3 at the halfway point.
This rally in the seventh game was one of the best in the match:
However, Djokovic showed why he has won so many of these tournaments in the past, battling to win the final three games for the set, match and title.
The 31-year-old had been dealing with elbow injuries over the past couple of years and dropped as low at No. 22 in the world just three months ago. However, he is clearly back to being one of the best players in the world.
Although del Potro was the higher seed, he was fully aware of the challenge ahead of him entering the day.
"He's playing so good," he said of Djokovic, per Clarey. "He will be the favorite to win on Sunday, but I don’t know."
The Serbian lived up to expectations with his third title at the U.S. Open.
The two players will now try to build off their success in this tournament by closing the year strong at Masters 1000 tournaments in Shanghai and Paris, as well the ATP Finals.
Stats via USOpen.org.