But off the back of a 24-shot rally, Djokovic broke again for 5-3 and he was within tantalising touching distance of his 14th Grand Slam title, just three months after he had left Roland Garros in despair after a shattering quarter-final exit. For Serena, she carried on maybe a little bit further than she should have, (but) it was on the change over.
Del Potro backed Djokovic to surpass Federer's mark of 20 Slams.
"We just do what we can against them".
"We sat down and we just looked at the world from that perspective, just kind of breathed in the new inspiration, new motivation". It was all positives. I feel like these guys, rivalries with these guys, matches with Federer and Nadal, have made me the player I am, have shaped me into the player I am today.
The 31-year-old Djokovic captured his second straight tennis major at the 2018 U.S. Open from Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, New York. "I guess we'll be hiking some more".
All that frustration was washed away when he struck the overhead victor to clinch victory over Del Potro, Djokovic falling to his back, arms and legs spread savouring the moment.
Equalling Sampras was particularly special for Djokovic, who said: "Pete Sampras is one of the biggest legends ever to play the game. I really do", said Djokovic, who gave his pal a hug at the net, and then went over to console del Potro as he wiped away tears at his sideline seat. Depending on how she trains herself in the years ahead, it might not be a mere fantasy for her to continue standing as the top tennis player in the world.More news: Hurricane Florence Intensifies As It Barrels Toward US East Coast
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It was after watching Pete Sampras win Wimbledon - while sitting in his parents' pizza parlour as a six-year-old - that Djokovic decided tennis was the sport for 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".
Playing on the same court where Sampras claimed his 14th and final Grand Slam crown, Djokovic has endured more disappointment than joy on Arthur Ashe, winning three titles from eight finals. There has been a first-time victor in four of the past six Grand Slam tournaments, and 20-year-old Naomi Osaka added to the eclectic mix by becoming the first Japanese to win a Major.
However, the underdog dialled up his intensity to great effect - that massive forehand clicking into gear - and was aided by significant crowd support as he capitalized on a brief dip in Djokovic's form to get back on level terms.
He needed four sets to get past 41st-ranked Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in the first round and another to get past 61st-ranked American Tennys Sandgren in the second.
Del Potro - the third seed - had earlier lauded Djokovic, telling ESPN: "So happy to play in the final against this magnificent idol".
In the absence of any representative body to speak for tennis officials, it fell to the ITF to say what should be evident to all: despite Williams's repeated insistence that Ramos owes her an apology, he was just doing his job when he penalised her a point and a game during Saturday's tumultuous women's US Open final.