World No. 1 Novak Djokovic won his third Grand Slam singles title of the year with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory over 17-time champion Roger Federer, the crowd favorite, in Sunday’s US Open final. With his second title in New York, but first since 2011, the Serb became just the 8th man to win 10 Grand Slam singles titles.

Djokovic, who won this year’s Australian Open and Wimbledon but fell to Stanislas Wawrinka in the French Open final, became the third man in the Open era to reach all four Slam finals in the same year. Sunday’s win marked the second time in five years — the last being in 2011 — that he’s won three majors in one year; Federer accomplished that feat three times as well, in 2004, 2006 and 2007.

Sunday’s meeting was the 42nd between Djokovic and Federer, and 14th in a major. Djokovic’s win evened the head-to-head, 21-21. But, he has dominated the storied rivalry of late, winning four of his last five matches against the Swiss No. 1.

“As I said, I have a tremendous respect for Roger and what his game is presenting to me and to any other player,” Djokovic said during his on-court interview. “Just an incredible record and everything he has achieved in his career, coming out on court and knowing you’re playing probably the greatest player [in the history of] the game adds a little more pressure. You can always give your best on court and I was trying to do so. …He’s going to take the best out of you. That was needed from my side and it was an incredible evening for me.”

After a three-hour rain delay, it was Djokovic who asserted himself early. He held three break points in Federer’s opening service game, that lasted nearly 10 minutes, and won the first set fairly routinely over an error-prone Federer. It was the first set Federer had lost since losing to Djokovic in the Wimbledon final. The all-time leader in Grand Slam men’s singles titles battled back to win a long, competitive second set during which he faced no break points and was finally able to convert on one of nine he held against Djokovic.

That, was the biggest difference in Sunday’s match. While Federer’s serving numbers might not have been as strong as they were throughout the tournament — to be expected against arguably the game’s best returner — it was his own return game that truly betrayed him on the big points.

Federer, at times, appeared the more dominant player, yanking Djokovic around the baseline. But, as has become his trademark, there is very little Djokovic does not get back. And with insurance. Federer earned himself 23 break points, but could only convert four of them. Djokovic was 6 for 13 on break chances.

“Yeah, surely I am very disappointed, I had my chances on my racquet,” Federer told reporters in his post-match interview. “I should never [have] been down in the score the way I was. But Novak did a great job of fending them off, and, you know, all of that. …There is definitely consolation [in that] it’s been a great stretch all the way for many months now.”

Federer came back from an early break deficit in the third set and had chances to go ahead, 5-3. But after Djokovic held for 4-4, Federer lost a 30-0 lead to get broken; Djokovic erased a 15-30 deficit with a some big serves to close out the third set.

Djokovic broke again to start the fourth set and built a 5-2 cushion. Federer got one break back and closed the gap to 5-4 but the Serb served the match out successfully on his second try. Per the US Open website, Djokovic has now won more titles (27) on hard courts than he’s lost matches (25) since his breakout 2011 season. Sunday’s win marked his seventh title of 2015.

“It’s been an incredible season,” Djokovic said. “I’m enjoying this year more than I did any previous one because I am a husband and a father and it makes this sweeter.”

Jennifer Beekman

Spark Sports Analyst