Novak Djokovic is hunting down Roger Federer’s record grand slam title haul after again denying the Swiss superstar another slice of tennis history to land his second US Open crown in New York.
The world No.1 repelled a spirited fightback from Federer to carve out a 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-4 victory in a riveting final at Flushing Meadows.
Djokovic’s latest triumph secured the 28-year-old his 10th career major, placing him alongside American 1920s champion Bill Tilden in equal seventh place on the all-time men’s grand slam leaderboard.
One more and Djokovic will join legends Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg with 11 slams such is the Serb’s growing standing among the pantheon of greats.
Only Federer (17), Rafael Nadal (14), Pete Sampras (14) and Roy Emerson (12) have accrued more.
But with nine majors in the past five years, including three in a season for the second time in 2015, Djokovic is beginning to dominate the so-called golden generation of tennis like Federer once did.
Only a four-set finals loss to Federer’s countryman Stan Wawrinka at Roland Garros denied Djokovic the first calendar-year grand slam sweep since Laver in 1969.
Even Federer admits the world No.1 will continue piling up the slams as long as he remains healthy and hungry – and Djokovic says he is certainly that.
“We got two to double digits now,” said Djokovic, inadvertently omitting Nadal who is also in double figures. “I’m so obviously flattered and honoured to be a part of elite group of players, legends of our sports to manage to win this many grand slam trophies in their lives and careers,” Djokovic said.
“So to be just mentioned alongside them is truly something special. I’m 28. I have always valued the care for my body and my mind and had this holistic approach to life.
“I always thought this is utmost importance for my tennis. I will continue on with the same kind of lifestyle, same kind of approach.
“I think that kind of approach brought me to where I am today. Hopefully this kind of approach will give me longevity and that I can have many more years to come and many more opportunities to fight for these trophies.”
In a stretch that will likely never be repeated, Federer once reached 18 finals from 19 grand slam events in his pomp.
But while neither the Swiss master or Nadal failed to land a major this year for the first time since 2002, Djokovic has made 16 of the past 21 grand slam finals – Federer-like numbers.
“It’s been an incredible season, next to 2011 probably the best season of my life,” Djokovic said.
“But I’m enjoying this one more because I’m a husband and a father and this makes this more sweeter.
“As a father and a husband, experiencing different variety of things in my life, it’s completely different approach to tennis today.
“I feel more fulfilled. I feel more complete as a player today than I was in 2011 – physically stronger, mentally more experienced, and tougher as well.”
Djokovic’s iron will, stamina, shot-making and unrivalled counter-punching ultimately crushed Federer’s hopes to become the oldest US Open men’s champion in 45 years.
But the father of four, who succumbed to Djokovic in the Wimbledon final two months ago, vowed to return to Flushing Meadows for another shot at the title in 2016.
“I love the sport, I’ve got a lot of passion and I’ll see you guys next year,” he said.
“I am playing a good year. I’m playing good tennis. I am happy with where my level is at. I’m able to be consistent, very consistent.”