After beating Juan Martin Del Potro in the men’s singles final to claim the US Open title and matching Pete Sampras record of 14 Grand Slam titles, champion Novak Djokovic said that Roger Federer as well as Rafael Nadal have made him the player he is today.
With the victory, the Serb will rise to number three ranking in the world, only behind Nadal and Federer, reflecting the “Big Three” status they have shared for so long. Djokovic admitted that at the start of his career, he did not look forward to playing Nadal, Federer. “Maybe 10 years ago I would say I’m not so happy to be part of this era with Nadal and Federer,” he said. “Today I really am. I feel like these guys, rivalries with these guys, matches with Federer and Nadal, have made me the player I am, have shaped me into the player I am today. I owe it to them.”
Adding a third US Open title to his kitty after beating Del Ptro 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, Djokovic said, “Pete Sampras is one of the biggest legends ever to play the game. He was my childhood idol. He was someone I was looking up to. The first actual thing I saw related to tennis on the TV was his first or second Wimbledon championship. That inspired me to start playing tennis. There is a lot of significance of me being now shoulder to shoulder in terms of Grand Slam wins with him.”
Responding to the chants from the crowd for Del Potro, Djokovic said, “This might sound funny, but my nickname is Nole. When they shout “Ole, ole, ole, ole,” that’s what I hear. “I thought it was electrifying in some stages of the match, especially in the second set when we went toe-to-toe. I had my corner, as well. When the roof is closed, trust me, it’s very, very loud down there. It takes a lot of effort to actually stay poised in this moment. I’m glad I managed to do that.”