Published: Tue, September 11, 2018
Sport | By Floyd Cook

Novak Djokovic: 'Marco Cecchinato has made me realize a lot of things'

Novak Djokovic: 'Marco Cecchinato has made me realize a lot of things'

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, holds the championship trophy after defeating Juan Martin del Potro, of Argentina, in the men's final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, in NY.

Del Potro - the 2009 champion back for a second slam final after overcoming career-threatening wrist injuries - threw everything he had at his rival, but Djokovic absorbed the Argentinian's power superbly, his returning of serve particularly outstanding.

Djokovic is now level with Pete Sampras on 14 titles and behind only Rafael Nadal on 17 and Roger Federer's 20. That put the 29-year-old Argentine back in a Grand Slam final for the first time since his breakthrough nine years ago, a comeback for a guy who had four wrist operations in the interim. He was my childhood idol.

"When I had my surgery I could truly understand what Juan Martin was going through when he had surgeries that kept him away form the tour for two or three years", added Djokovic.

I guess we'll be hiking some more very soon (smiling).' Djokovic won US Open all the three times that he had previously won Wimbledon in the same year, 2011, 2015, 2018. He almost quit tennis in 2015, after four wrist surgeries that wouldn't let him regain the form that carried him past Roger Federer to win the 2009 U.S. Open.

"I grew up playing and thinking that one day I'll be able to do what he does", the former world number one said.

More news: Djokovic tops del Potro to win U.S. Open, 14th Slam title

Seeded to face Federer in the quarter-finals, he found himself instead across the net from John Millman after the unheralded Australian stunned the Swiss great.

To reach Sunday's final Djokovic brought the heat to Kei Nishikori in Friday night's semifinal, wearing down the 2014 Open runner-up with his stellar defense in a dominating performance. Nadal was two sets down when he shook his head and said he had to retire. I feel like these guys, rivalries with these guys, matches with Federer and Nadal, have made me the player I am, have shaped me into the player I am today. "When they shout "Ole, ole, ole, ole", that's what I hear", he said of the raucous chants for Del Potro. I don't see it's necessary really to debate that.

Juan Martín del Potro brought his own cheering section to the US Open, but in truth, the "gentle giant" from Argentina has the backing of the entire tennis world.

Djokovic was far superior to del Potro in the opening set but he dropped three consecutive games in the second to trail 4-3.

"When the roof is closed, trust me, it's very loud".

Djokovic has only ever lost one match from more than 200 when he has led by two sets - to Austria's Jurgen Melzer at the 2010 French Open - but there was no sign of that happening again.

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