Novak Djokovic has won the 2023 U.S. Open men’s singles final, tying Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 major titles.
The 36-year-old from Serbia beat Russian Daniil Medvedev in straight sets on Sunday, becoming the oldest man to win the tournament in the open era.
Novak Djokovic used every ounce of his energy and some serve-and-volley guile to get past Medvedev 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3 in a match that was more closely contested than the straight-set score indicated.
Djokovic moved one major singles title in front of Serena Williams to become the first player to win 24 in the Open era, which began in 1968. Margaret Court also collected a total of 24, but 13 of those came before professionals were admitted to the Slam events.
There were moments, particularly in the 1-hour, 44-minute second set that was as much about tenacity as talent, when Djokovic appeared to be faltering. After some of the most grueling points, he would lean over with hands on knees or use his racket for support or pause to stretch his legs.
The meeting was a rematch of the 2021 final in Flushing Meadows, Queens, when Medvedev won in straight sets for his first and so far only Grand Slam title and denied Djokovic what would have been the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s tennis since 1969.
Djokovic’s fourth championship in New York, where he was unable to compete a year ago because he isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19, goes alongside his 10 trophies from the Australian Open, seven from Wimbledon and three from the French Open, extending his lead on the men’s Slam list. Nadal, sidelined since January with a hip problem, is next with 22; Roger Federer, who announced his retirement a year ago, finished with 20.
When it was over, Medvedev tapped Djokovic on the chest as they talked at the net. Djokovic flung his racket away, put his arms up and then knelt on the court, with his head bowed. And then the celebration was on. First he found his daughter for a hug. His son and wife came next, along with his team.
Soon, Djokovic was donning a shirt with “24” and “Mamba Forever” written on it as a tribute to the late NBA star Kobe Bryant, who wore that jersey number. And on top of that went a white jacket with the same significant number stamped on the chest.
“Kobe was a close friend. We chatted a lot about the winner’s mentality when I was struggling with injury and trying to make my comeback, work my way back to the top of the game,” Djokovic said. “He was one of the people that I relied on the most.”