Juan Martin del Potro rued not being able to take the chances that fell his way in Sunday’s U.S. Open final but was full of admiration for the quality of champion Novak Djokovic’s play.
Djokovic, the Wimbledon champion, beat the big-serving Argentine 6-3 7-6(4) 6-3 to claim his third U.S. Open title and 14th career Grand Slam crown.
The Serb was in clinical form, retrieving Del Potro’s scorching forehand time and time again and delivering a masterclass in defensive tennis to beat the Argentine.
“To be honest, I was crying till now,” Del Potro said at a news conference. “I’m very sad for being a loser today but Novak deserved to take the trophy.
“He played a great match, very smart game. I had my opportunities during the second and third set but I was playing almost at the limit all the time … and I couldn’t make it because Novak was there every time.
“He’s a great champion. So I’m glad for him.”
After losing an early break in the second set Del Potro fought back to level terms and then had three break points to open up a lead, but made two unforced errors that allowed Djokovic to see out the game and level at 4-4.
“I had my chances in the second set,” Del Potro added. “I took the risks with my forehand. I’ve been doing that all the match. Sometimes it goes in and sometimes I miss it, but it’s the only way to beat these kind of players.
“You have to play a perfect game during more than three hours. Sometimes you couldn’t make it, but my mistakes were because of the level of Novak.”
This year marks the first time since 2012 that the three biggest names in men’s tennis — Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal — have all won Grand Slam titles.
Federer won the Australian Open, Nadal won at Roland Garros, with Djokovic claiming the two final majors.
The trio have dominated men’s tennis for more than a decade, winning 51 Grand Slam titles between them, and Del Potro said he was proud to be competing against them.
“Of course, it’s a big challenge,” Del Potro added. “But also I think we are proud to be close to these legends.
“I’ve been during all my career learning with Novak, Roger, Rafa, seeing them winning these events very often. It’s amazing. I don’t feel sad that I couldn’t win Grand Slams because of them.
“I am just one of the guys that is lucky to be in the same era as them and it’s great.”