Novak Djokovic has year-end world No 1 firmly in his sights following US Open triumph
"I love this sport. As long as there is that flair in me, I really will keep on going. I still feel it. I still have a lot of passion"
By Raz Mirza
Last Updated: 10/09/18 4:24pm
US Open champion Novak Djokovic has year-end world No 1 in his sights after moving within striking distance of Rafael Nadal.
The Serb has enjoyed a triumphant summer after his difficulties of the past two years when he endured a loss of confidence that accompanied a 54-week title drought followed by the low of elbow surgery in February.
Returning the following month he lost back-to-back matches to Taro Daniel and Benoit Paire and his ranking dropped as low as 22.
But he is back up to No 3 and within striking distance of Nadal in the race to finish the season ranked world No 1 after a fourth Wimbledon title, then a long-awaited Cincinnati Masters title, before adding the US Open title to those he won in 2011 and 2015 after defeating Juan Martin del Potro in Sunday's final.
Djokovic said: "If you told me in February this year when I got the surgery that I'll win Wimbledon, US Open, and Cincinnati (becoming the first man to win all the Masters titles), it would be hard to believe.
"But, at the same time, there was always part of me that imagined and believed and hoped that I can get back to the desired level of tennis very soon.
"I expected, to be quite frank, after surgery that I'll be back on a high level quite fast. But it took me actually three, four months. In that process, I learned a lot about myself, learned to be patient, which was never really a stronger side of me.
"I try to keep my both feet on the ground. I love this sport. As long as there is that flair in me, I really will keep on going. I still feel it. I still have a lot of passion. I think more than passion, it's just the will to work and to be dedicated every day."
Del Potro: Novak can overtake Federer
Juan Martin del Potro believes Novak Djokovic can overtake Roger Federer in Grand Slam stakes
Djokovic is now level on 14 Grand Slam titles with Pete Sampras and, in men's terms, behind only Rafael Nadal on 17 and Roger Federer's 20.
Equalling Sampras was particularly special for Djokovic, who said: "Pete Sampras is one of the biggest legends ever to play the game. He was my childhood idol.
"The first thing I saw related to tennis on the TV was his first or second Wimbledon championship. That inspired me to start playing tennis.
"There is a lot of significance of me being now shoulder-to-shoulder in terms of grand slam wins with him. It's truly incredible when you think about it. I grew up playing and thinking that one day I'll be able to do what he does. To actually be here, it's a dream come true."
Leading Grand Slam title winners
|14||Pete Sampras, Novak Djokovic|
|11||Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver|
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