Novak Djokovic’s summer journey from existential drifter to double Grand Slam champion was completed on Sunday night on another febrile evening inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The 31 year-old Serb, who back in April was still suffering from a lack of motivation, followed up his Wimbledon title by fending off the rangy power of Juan Martin Del Potro to win the US Open final 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 in three hours and 16 minutes.
We are back at peak Djokovic, who will rise to world number four now, and possibly back to world No 1 by the end of the year.
After the fracas involving Serena Williams on Saturday night, British umpire Alison Hughes sometimes had her work cut out to control the New York crowd, who wanted to see the Argentinian capture his first Major title in nine injury-ravaged years. At least she was not quietly ushered off the court afterwards, as had happened to Carlos Ramos the night before.
An emotional Del Potro said: ‘It’s not easy to speak right now. I’m so happy to play in the final against this magnficent idol. I’m sad to lose but happy for Novak and he deserved to win.
‘I never gave up during my wrist problems, I was trying to fix my injuries to be here again and I got here after nine years. I’m proud of that.’
For Djokovic this was No 14, and who knows how many he can win, especially with the ageing process biting at his closest rivals.
Djokovic, who now equals Pete Sampras on 14 majors and wins $3.8million (£2.94m), was asked to what he attributed his revival: ‘To the support of my loved ones, my small team of people who have been with me through difficult times as well. When I had surgery earlier this year I could understand what Juan Martin went through, but you learn from adversity.
I try to take the best out of myself. It felt like a football match a bit here with the Argentinian and Serbian fans. The crowd never went over the line.’
It seems all to be back: the searing returns, the movement, the backhand down the line, the cussed determination. He can play like a human brick wall.
With cold and showers ending this historically hot US Open on an inappropriately wintry note the roof was again closed, as it had been for the controversial women’s final the night before.
Del Potro was going to need to hit plenty of winners through this sluggishly-paced court that has been very much to Djokovic’s liking. It is one of the things that has played into his hands during this summer comeback, another being when the roof was closed for his whole match against Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon.
When he went a break behind in the second we were at peak Djokovic, but somehow the Argentinian chiselled out a break back and the crowd surged behind him, testing the Serb’s temperament as he remonstrated over the distraction.
A giant tug of war ensued in the eighth game, which was to last just over twenty minutes and included three break points for the Argentinian and about six minutes of Djokovic bouncing the ball before serve. On they went to a tiebreak which turned on a couple of errors on the forehand side, the one which Djokovic spent most of the match trying to avoid.
When he went two sets up he did so nurturing a 204-1 winning record in best of five set matches.
A wearying Del Potro always fights and, as in the second set, he recovered an early break, before losing out in too many long rallies saw him broken decisively for 5-3.