Novak Djokovic handled the weight of history to defeat Daniil Medvedev on Sunday in the 2023 US Open men’s singles final. With a 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 victory, the 36-year-old won his 24th Grand Slam singles title, tying Margaret Court’s record and bolstering his case to be considered the greatest tennis player of all time.
“To make the history of this sport is something truly remarkable and special,” Djokovic said during the trophy ceremony. “I never imagined that I would be here talking about 24 Slams. I never thought that would be the reality, but the last couple of years I felt I have a chance, I have a shot at history—and why not grab it if it’s presented.”
In a roller-coaster match, Djokovic went from clinical to clinging on as he battled through fatigue and saved a set point in a 104-minute second set. After fighting off Medvedev’s first two break points of the match, Djokovic brought his very best in the tiebreak—in which he lost three lung-busting, extended rallies but won a fourth to spark the three-point run that snatched the set.
There was an entirely different feel in set three, as Djokovic emerged fresher with the title in sight. He broke in consecutive return games—either side of Medvedev’s first break of the match—and clinched his fourth US Open crown soon after.
While Medvedev did not have the elite serving day that helped him beat Carlos Alcaraz in the semis, the third seed was once again brilliant from the baseline, constantly testing Djokovic with incredible depth and persistent power. Still, Djokovic remained in control for the first set-and-a-half, expertly redirecting Medvedev’s best attacks and working the sidelines to great effect.
The Serb did not face a break point until he fought off one at 3-4 and another at 5-6 in the second set. Late in the frame and in the crucial tiebreak, Medvedev took some pace off his strokes in an apparent effort to attack Djokovic’s legs. The tactic worked as he won three rallies of 17 balls or more in the breaker, but Djokovic won a 21-ball exchange to level at 5-5 before a big serve and a Medvedev backhand error ended the set.
Despite his phyiscal struggles, including repeated stumbles after misses and stretching in between points, Djokovic still managed to hang with Medvedev blow for blow. Some of the highest-stakes points of the match were also some of the highest-quality exchanges, with both players pumping up the Ashe crowd as they took turns winning thrilling all-court rallies.
The third set flashed by in 45 minutes, less than half the time of the second frame, with Djokovic winning two more lengthy rallies in the last game as a final stamp of authority.
Rather than relying on his renowned baseline play throughout the match, Djokovic repeatedly attacked the net to counter Medvedev’s deep returning position, winning 20 of 22 serve-and-volley points and 37 of 44 net points in total.
WHAT IT MEANS: Already the sole owner of the record for men’s Grand Slam singles titles, Djokovic now moves ahead of Serena Williams and level with Margaret Court at 24 for first in the all-time count. He also moves two majors ahead of Rafael Nadal’s 22 and four clear of Roger Federer’s 20.
Following his victory in his record 36th major singles final, Djokovic is now the first man to win three Grand Slams singles titles in a season four times (2011, 2015, 2021, 2023). That number of finals also matches the Serb’s age; at 36, he is the oldest US Open men’s singles champion in the Open Era. He is 12-3 in Grand Slam finals in his 30s, bettering a 12-9 mark his 20s.
Djokovic is now 4-6 across his record-tying 10 US Open men’s singles finals. Bill Tilden also reached 10 US Open finals, winning seven in the 1920s.
MATCH POINT: Now 10-5 in his head-to-head against Medvedev, Djokovic earned a measure of US Open revenge two years after Medvedev denied him a Grand Slam at the last hurdle in the 2021 New York final. After a straight-sets defeat in that match, the Serb flipped the script on Sunday with a three-set win of his own.