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Djokovic Eager to Keep Going after US Open loss but Admits Passing of Torch is Near

“Of course part of me is very sad. It’s a tough one to swallow, this loss, considering everything that was on the line. But on the other hand, I felt something I never felt in my life here in New York,” Novak Djokovic said after his US Open final loss. EPA-EFE/JUSTIN LANE

By Ricky Dimon

Novak Djokovic experienced a roller-coaster of emotions not only after but also during his loss to Daniil Medvedev in the U.S. Open final on Sunday afternoon.

Sadness. Relief. Gratitude. All of it was there.

Djokovic’s bid for the calendar-year Grand Slam and a record-breaking 21st major title was derailed with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 setback against Medvedev that required only two hours and 15 minutes. It was an unexpected result that followed an even more surprising moment, when Djokovic broke down in tears at the 5-4 changeover of the third set as fans chanted his name in hopes of inspiring a dramatic comeback.

It was a comeback that had almost no chance of happening–and didn’t. But the support still meant everything to Djokovic.

“So many different emotions,” the world No. 1 explained. “Of course part of me is very sad. It’s a tough one to swallow, this loss, considering everything that was on the line. But on the other hand, I felt something I never felt in my life here in New York.

“The crowd made me very special. They pleasantly surprised me. I did not know, I did not expect anything, but the amount of support and energy and love I got from the crowd was something that I’ll remember forever. I mean, that’s the reason on the changeover I just teared up. The emotion, the energy was so strong. I mean, it’s as strong as winning 21 Grand Slams. That’s how I felt, honestly. I felt very, very special.

“They touched my heart, honestly. Of course [at] the end of the day you want to win; you’re a professional athlete. These are the kind of moments that you cherish. These are connections that you establish with people that will be lasting for a very long time. Yeah, it was just wonderful.”

Novak Djokovic’s 27-match major winning streak came to an end in the US Open final. EPA-EFE/PETER FOLEY
Even though a chance for the first calendar-year slam in men’s singles since Rod Laver in 1969 slipped through the cracks, Djokovic obviously still has a great opportunity to set a record that could last for a very long time. At 34 years old and seemingly in line to be playing well after Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal retire, the Serb remains a heavy favorite to break the three-way tie with 20 majors and extend it to 21 and beyond.

“Relief” is how Djokovic described the emotion of his CYGS bid coming to an end, but he plans to get right back in gear when 2022 rolls around and make history at the expense of Federer, Nadal, and a younger generation led by Medvedev that is eager to take over.

“The transition was inevitable,” he explained, “(but) the older guys are still hanging on. We’re still trying to shine the light on the tennis world as much as we possibly can. I’m speaking on my own behalf. I still want to keep going, try to win more slams, play for my country. Those are the things that motivate me the most I think at this point.”

But the new generation, if you want to call them this way, is not anyone new; it’s already current–established. Of course they are going to take over. I think tennis is in good hands because they’re all nice guys and very, very good, high-quality tennis players. They [have] something to offer on and off the court.

“I was short today for another slam title,” Djokovic continued, “but I have to be proud [of] everything that my team and I have achieved. And in tennis we learn very quickly how to turn the next page. Very soon there are some more challenges, more things that are coming up. I have learned to overcome these kinds of tough losses in the finals of slams, the ones that hurt the most.”I’ll try to take some lessons from them, learn, be stronger, and keep going, keep going. I still love this sport and I still feel good on the court. As long as there is motivation and that flair, I’ll keep riding.”

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

Editor’s Note : sorry. But New York City tennis fans want to have seen “History” • They cheered for Novak because they wanted to see more tennis. 3 sets didn’t satisfy their thirsts. I guess the beers and Honey  yum Yums didn’t either. They wanted  “bang” for their bucks. If the match could have been an epic 5 setter that would have pleased them. They cheer because it’s nYC and that’s what they do. Novak looked to be at 75 percent of himself the whole fortnight. Kei should have won their match up. Just saying. ( LJ)