NEW YORK — Novak Djokovic raised his hands in the air before falling to his knees and crouching on the ground, as nearly 24,000 people stood and roared in ovation. While his face wasn’t visible, his whole body shook as he sobbed.
On Sunday, Djokovic defeated Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3 in the US Open final, further cementing his name among, or perhaps above, the sport’s greatest. The triumph marks his 24th major singles title, the most by any player of the Open era, and ties Margaret Court’s long-standing record for the most in tennis history.
“To make history [in] this sport is just something truly remarkable and special, obviously, in every possible way, in every possible meaning of the word,” Djokovic said, while wearing a custom “24” jacket, on court after the win. “I never imagined that I would be here standing with you talking about 24 Slams. I never thought that that would be the reality. But [in] the last couple of years I felt I had a chance, I have a shot at the history, and why not grab it if it’s presented?”
It’s an achievement that has been much discussed. Serena Williams famously chased it for several years before ultimately retiring with 23 major titles, while Rafael Nadal hit 22 last year but has been hampered by injuries.
“Twenty-four would of course mean a lot, as 23 has meant a lot,” Djokovic said in an interview with ESPN before play got underway. “So any additional one would be a huge bonus. I’m really happy with 23, I must say. I have learned in my life to be happy with what I have and be thankful for that.
“But of course, I always want one more.”
For the 36-year-old Djokovic, reaching 24 might be something of a formality — most would argue he has already surpassed what Court achieved in her career because the eras are simply not comparable. This record is only the latest milestone in Djokovic’s quest to secure his status as the greatest of all time.
Djokovic won his 20th major at Wimbledon two years ago, putting himself in a tie with Nadal and Roger Federer for the most major titles by a male player. Nadal then took over sole possession of the lead by winning his 21st and 22nd during the Australian Open and French Open in 2022. Djokovic caught him at the Australian Open this year and then catapulted into the lead…