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Friday, February 23, 2024

Novak Djokovic reveals the first thing he wanted to do after his U.S. Open win

Novak Djokovic’sU.S. Openwin in the men’s final Sunday night was not an easy victory. He told “CBS Mornings” on Monday the game’s exhausting second set, which lasted 1 hour, 44 minutes, was one of the longest sets he’d ever played in his life.

“Probably the hardest, physically hardest, grueling set I ever played,” he said.

“It was just anybody’s game, really. It was a huge, huge relief and a bonus to win that second set,” Djokovic said.

His thoughts after clinching the final set of three against Daniil Medvedev of Russia — to capture his 24th Grand Slam title?

“I’m thinking, God is great,” he said. “I felt this huge relief and this gratitude for that moment. You know, people ask me why you didn’t celebrate after the last point, right after I saw his forehand going to the net. I said, you know, I just felt a huge relief. And I was just thankful it was over.”

“And the first thing I wanted to do after I exchanged words with him at the net is to hug my daughter,” he said.

“She’s my guardian angel, she’s my baby, she’s my sweetheart,” he said. “I didn’t know that she was going to be seated there. We faced each other as I was sitting on the bench. She was there, and every single time I would need some encouragement, she would be there. She would give me a fist bump, she would give me a smile. And it would melt me. Because there was a lot of stress and obviously high-tension moments, particularly in the second set. And I needed something, and I saw her, and she just kind of channeled that divine energy to me. I felt it.”

Djokovic’s victory marked the fourth time he was able to hold the trophy aloft in New York City, and at 36 years old, he became the oldest man ever to win the U.S. Open championship. He said he felt the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium was with him.

“The atmosphere was electric, it was amazing,” he said. “Biggest tennis stadium in our sport, Arthur Ashe, over 20,000 people, packed house. It was just a huge honor and pleasure to be on the court. And you know, I still play for these moments. You know, I still, day in, day out, try to push myself. Okay, wake up, go do your chores, go do your routines. Because you know, if you want to get to the Grand Slam finals level and fight for the biggest trophy in sports, you got to work and you got to sacrifice. So, being there, it was just, okay, this is why I am pushing myself every single day. So, I might as well give it all. And it was just an incredible experience.”

The final score was 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3.

After his win, Djokovic paid tribute to his friend, basketball’s Kobe Bryant, by donning a T-shirt with a photo of the two of them, emblazoned with the phrase “Mamba Forever” and the number 24 on the back.

“Kobe was one of these athletes that left such an incredible mark and legacy, and not just on the court but off the court,” Djokovic said. “He was the one that was one of the most important people for me when I was struggling, trying to come back from an injury, worked my way back. You know, he was advising me. He was counseling me. He was supporting me. He was incredible.”

“CBS Mornings” co-host Nate Burleson asked Djokovic what advice he has for someone trying to balance finding success in something and still being hungry.

“I think setting goals and objectives is extremely important for anything, really,” he replied. “I think that’s one of the reasons why I think athletes resonate with people, is because we are able to go through, you know, lowest of the lowest and to the highest of the highest in a very short time span – in a game, tennis match or football game or basketball game. And I think this incredibly, you know, wide spectrum of emotions that you go through and, you know, the facing adversities and overcoming the challenges and obstacles, is something that people relate to. I think it’s very important to have a clarity in what you want in life, understanding who you are. And we all different. We all have our individual formulas that work.”

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