Novak Djokovic reveals Carlos Alcaraz Cincinnati triumph ‘felt like winning a Grand Slam’

A delighted Novak Djokovic Credit: Alamy
A delighted Novak Djokovic Credit: Alamy

Novak Djokovic has revealed he celebrated his epic Cincinnati final victory over Carlos Alcaraz by falling to the ground because it “felt like winning a Grand Slam.”

The 23-time major champion also declared he will try to use the vibes he “still feels” from his 2021 US Open final defeat to Daniil Medvedev at this year’s edition of the event.

Djokovic defeated world No 1 Alcaraz in a marathon three-set final at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Cincinnati last week. The 36-year-old survived after trailing by a set and 4-2 – saving a match point in the second set tiebreak – before prevailing in an incredible one-hour-and-39-minute deciding set.

The Serbian fell onto his back after match point, before ripping off his shirt – replicating his iconic celebration following his marathon 2012 Australian Open final win against Rafael Nadal.

The victory saw the world No 2 tie his record against Alcaraz at 2-2, following his defeat to the 20-year-old Spaniard in a thrilling five-set Wimbledon final last month.

Speaking ahead of the 2023 US Open, Djokovic discussed how he deals with tension in matches and reflected on his triumph in Cincinnati.

“Well, I get nervous as anybody else really. People think that I don’t have any stress or tension. Actually in contrary, I have quite a lot of that. I have to deal with it, manage it,” explained the 36-year-old in his pre-tournament press conference.

“Everyone has their own way of managing the emotions and trying to be in optimal balance emotionally, mentally, and physically in order to perform their best. I’ve played great the entire week prior to the finals. Haven’t dropped a set in Cincinnati.

“Then played night sessions all of the matches, then I played on a very hot day, just experienced physical difficulties. Carlos was playing very well. He’s always pushing me to the limit. I think I do to him pretty much the same thing.

“That’s why we produced memorable final. It was one of the best, most exciting, and most difficult finals I was ever part of in best-of-three, no doubt, throughout my career.

“That’s why I fell on the ground after I won the match because it felt like winning a Grand Slam, to be honest. The amount of exchanges and rallies. It was physically so demanding and gruelling that I felt very exhausted for the next few days.”

The Serbian also discussed his return to the US Open, where he has not played since the 2021 final when he was brought to tears by the crowd support he received.

“The first feeling that I have is excitement to come back because it is the biggest arena we have in our sport, the biggest stadium, and definitely the most fun, electric, exciting atmosphere out there in tennis, playing night session in Arthur Ashe, no doubt,” said Djokovic.

“I’m very excited that I’ll be able to play the opening night on Monday. Come back in front of probably the loudest fans in sport, tennis fans in sport. I’m just very, very looking forward to that.

“It’s been two years when I played last here and lost finals to Medvedev in ’21, going for four Slams in a year. I haven’t performed well that day in terms of tennis.

“But what I felt from the crowd, that kind of connection and love and support that they gave me throughout entire match and also in the closing ceremony, was something that I carry still in my heart, and I still feel vibes from that night of the finals two years ago. Yeah, I try to use that for this year’s tournament.”

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