Djokovic was thrilled to match Pete Sampras with a 14th Grand Slam title, but he said it's Federer and Nadal who have made him the player he is.
"I was very, very disappointed with my performance that day", Djokovic recalled Sunday, explaining that he went hiking in the mountains in France to clear his head after that setback.
He is now set to rise to third in the ATP rankings behind Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the only two men to have claimed more slam titles, but can justifiably claim to be the best player in the world at present.
"I never gave up when I had the wrist problems", he said.
At the US Open, he has played eight finals - the most at any Major. "It's a Grand Slam final!"
"I think it's time to take a break, to see how my body feels for the future, and then be ready for the next one".
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A visit to the court from tournament referee Brian Earley and grand slam supervisor Donna Kelso failed to diffuse the situation and, having led 3-1 in the second set, a rattled Williams lost it completely as she went down 4-3.
Djokovic and Del Potro walked onto Arthur Ashe Stadium court with the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center still buzzing over the controversial women's final on Saturday, won by Japan's Naomi Osaka after Serena Williams incurred three code violations. The first actually thing I saw related to tennis on the TV was his first or second Wimbledon championship.
Djokovic's year got off to a less-than-ideal start, the Serbian set off on a five-day hike in the French Alps that proved transformative.
The tennis world is split over whether the 47-year-old should have used greater discretion before penalising Williams because of the actions of her coach - or given her another warning before docking her a game for verbal abuse. "That inspired me to start playing tennis", Djokovic said on Sunday.
"If you told me in February this year when I got the surgery that I'll win Wimbledon, US Open, and Cincinnati, it would be hard to believe", said Djokovic, referring to August's Cincinnati Masters that completed his Masters collection.
For Del Potro, it was a heartbreaking experience coming in just his second Slam final, nine years after he was crowned US Open champion.
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Almost 3,000 people died when hijackers flew jet planes into the World Trade Center in NY and the Pentagon in Northern Virginia. According to its official website , it also contains the "largest manmade waterfalls in the United States".
A focused Djokovic continued to apply pressure in the third set until Del Potro finally cracked on serve to fall behind 5-3, with the Serb closing out the match with a ferocious overhead victor.
But Del Potro needed more than just goodwill to beat Djokovic at his best, he needed his mighty forehand to be flawless and the rest of his game to back it up.
"I've been during all my career learning with Novak, Roger, Rafa, seeing them winning these events very often. I was just trying to focus on myself at that time". I had my opportunities during second and third set.
"Cecchinato made me realise a lot of things after that loss to him in Roland Garros", said the 14-tim Grand Slam champ.
Rebuilding the wall brick-by-brick "Maybe 10 years ago I would say I'm not so happy to be part of this era with Nadal and Federer".
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