Federer and Del Potro have had run-ins in the past. Djokovic, Federer, Nadal and Andy Murray have now won 50 of the past 55 Grand Slams. Of course, I'm sad to lose but I'm happy for Novak as well.
The sixth seed had suffered in the ferocious heat and humidity through the early days of the season's final Grand Slam but dropped only two sets for the tournament and none since the second round.
Djokovic sprinted into a 3-1 lead in the third set before a battling Del Potro clung on, hitting back for 3-3. Eventually, he seized that game - and del Potro's best chance to make a match of it.
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In their first meeting in a Grand Slam final it was Del Potro, back at this stage for the first time since 2009, who won the coin toss and elected to receive under the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof with heavy rain falling in NY. They went back and forth, through eight deuces and all those break opportunities for del Potro, until he slapped one forehand into the net, and another sailed wide.
A costly double-fault from Del Potro - his first of the match - and a series of errors saw Djokovic move one game away from victory and after three hours and 16 minutes he completed the job with an unstoppable overhead smash and then lying flat on his back on the court in celebration.
Yet the atmosphere was more positive on Sunday as spectators enjoyed an absorbing contest - again played under the roof of Arthur Ashe Stadium due to rain - between two great friends.
Del Potro's movement went from nimble to clunky after that.
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"I was playing nearly at my limit all the time, looking for winners with my forehands, backhands, and I couldn't make them because Novak was there every time", Del Potro said. After all he had the far bigger game - as demonstrated in the way he blew both Nadal and Federer off the court in that US Open run - and Djokovic had a habit for pulling out of matches with illness and injury. He depended on his hometown friends, a group of whom have been in NY throughout the fortnight to lead cheers in Arthur Ashe Stadium, and worked his way back to the final at his favorite ATP Tour event.
Between the 2009 championship and Sunday, the Argentine competed in 22 tournaments, an Open Era record number of events between major finals.
Djokovic was soon 3-1 up in the second set before Del Potro carved out his first break point of the match to level at 3-3. His eyes were still red when he spoke to reporters later. It's not just like, 'Okay, see you later, I've got to go'. "They deserve to win". "It will be in the heart for the rest of my life".
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