Novak Djokov Owe my success to Nadal and Federer
Novak Djokovic credits intense battles with top two stars for his rise after Serbian ace matches Pete Sampras with a 14th Grand Slam title at US Open
Novak Djokovic was thrilled to match Pete Sampras with a 14th Grand Slam title at the US Open on Sunday, but he said it's Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal who have made him the player he is. "Pete Sampras is one of the biggest legends ever to play the game," Djokovic said after earning a third US Open crown with a 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 victory over Juan Martin del Potro.
"He was my childhood idol. He was someone I was looking up to. The first actual thing I saw related to tennis on the TV was his first or second Wimbledon championship. That inspired me to start playing tennis," he added. The victory puts Djokovic three Slam wins away from Nadal's 17 and six behind Federer's record 20. It will also see him rise to World No. 3.
Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning the final v Del Potro at the US Open on Sunday. Pic/Getty Images
Djokovic had tumbled down the rankings, slowed last year by an elbow injury and a loss of confidence that accompanied a 54-week title drought. Since bursting out of the slump with an unexpected Wimbledon title, he has gone from strength to strength, adding a long-awaited Cincinnati Masters title to his resume before adding the US Open title to those he won in 2011 and 2015.
Djokovic faced neither of his greatest rivals en route to the title in Flushing Meadows. Seeded to face Federer in the quarters, he found himself instead across the net from John Millman after the unheralded Australian stunned the Swiss great. Nadal hobbled out of a semi-final match against Del Potro after two sets.
Novak Djokovic (right) and Juan Martin del Potro pose with their trophies. Pic/AFP
Djokovic would have relished taking on either or both, although he admits that early in his career that wasn't always the case. "Maybe 10 years ago I would say I'm not so happy to be part of this era with Nadal and Federer. Today, I really am. I feel the rivalries with these guys have made me the player I am today. I owe it to them," he said.
Del Potro backs Djoko to overtake Fed, Rafa
Juan Martin del Potro believes Novak Djokovic could eventually overtake Roger Federer to become the most successful male player in Grand Slam history. Asked if he can catch Federer, Del Potro said: "Of course, he can. He has 14 already. He won two grand slams in one year. He's healthy. He has a great team working with him. Hopefully him, Rafa, Roger are still fighting for Grand Slams, because it is so nice to watch them fighting for history. We just do what we can against them. But Novak has everything to make records in this sport."
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