Djokovic targets career slam after US Open triumph
Originally published on: 13/09/11 10:32
Novak Djokovic extended his lead atop the world rankings to 4,100 points after defeating closest rival Rafael Nadal in stunning fashion for his fourth Grand Slam title and first in New York.
His pulsating 6-2 6-4 6-7 6-1 victory over the world No.2 is the latest triumph in a truly remarkable year – with two months of the season still to play – for Djokovic, who has now won 10 titles – including the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open crowns – and accumulated a colossal $8,309,318 in prize money.
But perhaps one of the most remarkable statistics of the season, aside from his phenomenal run of 62 wins from 64 matches, is the fact that the Serb has put together a 10-1 winning record over Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in 2011.
Since losing to the Mallorcan in the New York showpiece 12 months ago – and at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals two months later – Djokovic has convincingly turned the tables on Nadal, conquering the 25 year old in all six of their final clashes this year, in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Rome, Wimbledon and now in New York. So too has he had a hold over Federer, beating the Swiss in four of their five meetings, falling to the 30 year old just once after a phenomenal display from the sixteen-time Grand Slam champion in the last four at Roland Garros.
Even after all he has achieved this season, the Belgrade native took a while to come to terms with his latest achievement having twice finished a runner up in New York.
“It really sounds unreal; it’s an incredible feeling,” beamed Djokovic in the immediate aftermath of his victory, and later, when he had time for his feat to sink, continued: “This is, you can say, my year, or the year where I performed my best tennis at major events.
“It’s something that makes me incredibly happy. It’s definitely going to take a lot of effort to try to repeat even half of what I have done this year for next year. I guess it takes some time to realise the success that I had this year, especially now winning another major. It’s really hard to find the words that can describe the feeling that I had and that I have still.”
Ten-time Grand Slam champion Nadal, meanwhile, was left to lament another loss to the man who has thoroughly got inside his head this season, but was, as we’ve grown to expect from the Spaniard, gracious in defeat.
“Obviously I’m disappointed,” said Nadal. “This guy is doing unbelievable things, so I just want to congratulate Novak. What he did this year is probably impossible to repeat. I tried my best in every moment.
Nadal had pushed his physical ability to its limits to clinch an incredible third set on a tiebreak, but his challenge of a comeback was quashed when Djokovic came out firing in the fourth.
“These kind of matches are very difficult, they bring your body to the limit,” Nadal admitted. “I think I tried to play aggressive, but he always made a fantastic comeback. I’m happy about what I did. I ran to every ball. I fought until the last ball. This year I’ve lost a lot of finals against him. I have to accept I won a lot in the past and the only thing I can do is to try my best every day to keep improving.”
After condemning Nadal to just his fourth Grand Slam final defeat, might this be the beginning of a landslide of major titles for Djokovic?
“There are still a lot of things to prove to myself and to the tennis world,” said the 24-year-old Serb. “I still want to win many more major events. It’s just that love for the sport that keeps me going. And winning on the court, that feeling, as long as it stays with me, I will keep fighting for more trophies.
“It would be unbelievable to be able to complete the Grand Slam, to win the French Open. It’s something that is definitely an ambition, but it’s going to take time.”