Novak Djokovic once again proved that age is just a number, defeating Daniil Medvedev in the US Open 2023 men’s singles final, at the Flushing Meadows in New York. The Serbian won 6-3 7-6(5) 6-3 to clinch his fourth US Open title and also matched Margaret Court’s record tally of 24 Grand Slam titles.
The match turned out to be an epic thriller and Djokovic scripted his revenge against Medvedev, who beat him in the 2021 US Open final. The 36-year-old dominated in the first set, despite showcasing fatigue from the get-go. In the second set, Daniil Medvedev staged a comeback, but Djokovic stretched it till the tie-breaker and came out on top as the second set ended as 7-6(5) in his favour.
Then in the third set, Djokovic didn’t give his opponent any chance, sealing it 6-3 to surge to a 6-3 7-6(5) 6-3 victory in front of a packed crowd which included many celebrities. After winning the match point, the 36-year-old was joined by his entourage, who congratulated him and were teary-eyed. To further celebrate the victory, Djokovic changed his shirt to a ‘Black Mamba’ t-shirt, in memory of Kobe Bryant. The shirt had ‘Mamba Forever’ written on it. Bryant gave himself the ‘Black Mamba’ nickname in the mid-2000s. The basketball legend died in a helicopter crash with his daughter in January 2020.
Here is the video of an emotional Djokovic changing into a Black Mamba t-shirt:
Explaining his gesture, Djokovic said, “I thought of doing this t-shirt eventually, if I get the chance to win the tournament, about seven days ago. I didn’t share it with anyone until a few days ago when I asked my people to help me out to make this shirt. Kobe was a close friend, we chatted a lot about the winner’s mentality. When I was struggling with injury and trying to make my comeback, work my way back to the top of the game, he was one of the people I relied on the most. He was always there for any kind of council, advice, any kind of support in the most friendly way.”
“Of course, what happened a few years ago with him and his daughter passing, hurt me deeply. I thought, 24 is the jersey that he wore when he became a legend of the Lakers and of world basketball. I thought it could be a nice, symbolic thing to acknowledge him for all the things he’s done,” he further added.