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Juan Martin del Potro may have been the sentimental favorite in Sunday's US Open men's final, but Novak Djokovic paid no attention to that on court as he beat the popular, injury ravaged Argentine to collect a historic grand slam title.

Over two weeks in NY he hit this high many times over.

"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.

It appeared it could be easier when Djokovic broke del Potro in the second game of the set and led 3-1.

Amid the shouts and murmurs of a fully involved Ashe Stadium crowd - especially the del Potro friends who constantly raised "delPo" chants between points - the protagonists brought to that game overhead smashes, drop shots, volleys, scrambling defensive gets, searing passing shots, a double fault, cross-court rockets.

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Both players settled for a tie-break in which the 31-year-old Serb rallied from 3-1 down, winning six of the next seven points, to win a mammoth set in 95 minutes and move to within one set of a second straight Grand Slam title. Nadal, Federer and Djokovic last occupied the top three spots in the rankings in April 2015.

This was Djokovic's third championship in NY, along with those in 2011 and 2015, as he drew even with Pete Sampras on 14 major to be third all time - trailing only Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (17).

Despite the typically enthusiastic backing of his fellow Argentinians, Del Potro was denied a second U.S. Open title nine years after his dramatic 2009 triumph.

Djokovic, who won Wimbledon in July, will climb to third in the world after back-to-back Grand Slam victories. "Now I have a feeling he's [catching] up with them", Vajda continued, slapping the back of his right hand on his left palm for emphasis.

In one charge at the net, Djokovic picked a del Potro volley off his toes and sent back a victor. Not against Djokovic, who always seemed to have all the answers - and who said he convinced himself that all of those "Oles" were actually people calling out his own nickname, "Nole". He was earmarked as the next big force, the man alongside Djokovic to rattle the two great champions he had just felled to break through. Her grandfather, who lives in Nemuro, Hokkaido, expressed his joy, saying, "I want her to make a spectacular showing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, too".

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Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates with his wife Jelena Djokovic after winning his men's Singles finals match.

"I was playing at my limit nearly all the time, looking for winners", he said.

But against one of the best returners in the business, Del Potro needed to be far more assertive. He made one last stand by breaking and holding for 3-all.

While Streep was beside herself, Jerry Seinfeld had more of a skeptical look.

And then came Sunday's pivotal game, a 20-minute, 22-point epic.

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"Of course, I'm sad because I lost but I'm happy for Novak and his team".


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