Novak Djokovic won a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title by outlasting Daniil Medvedev in a punishing US Open final in New York.
The 36-year-old Serb won 6-3 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 but the straight-set scoreline does not tell how deep he had to dig.
A comfortable opening set was followed by a brutal second which lasted one hour and 44 minutes.
After the pair exchanged breaks early in the third, Djokovic took control to level Margaret Court’s 50-year record.
“It obviously means the world to me,” said Djokovic on winning his 24th major.
“I’m really living my childhood dream to compete at the highest level in this sport, which has given me and my family so much from difficult circumstances.
“I never thought I would be here but the last couple of years I thought I had a shot at history. Why not grab it when it is presented?”
Second seed Djokovic looked physically troubled in that gruelling second set, but showed all the hallmarks of his greatness to win a fourth US Open title.
Djokovic, who surpassed Rafael Nadal’s record tally of 22 men’s major titles earlier this year, has matched Australia’s Court at the second attempt after losing the Wimbledon final in July.
He has won three of the four Grand Slam titles in 2023, becoming the first man to achieve this feat on four occasions.
Now the incoming world number one has the chance to surpass Court at January’s Australian Open – where he has already won a record 10 titles.
It felt fitting that Djokovic set up championship point by winning another lengthy rally and, after being made to wait to serve by shouts from the crowd, sealed victory when Medvedev hit a forehand into the net.
“I would definitely sign right away the paper if somebody would tell me I would win three out of four and play Wimbledon finals this year,” Djokovic said.
“There is a little regret that I didn’t win that Wimbledon final. But, at the end of the day, I have so much more to be happier and content with than actually to regret something.”
Djokovic shows again why he can never be written off
When Djokovic lost to 20-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final it felt like a changing-of-the-guard moment in the men’s game.
But, even in the twilight of his career, Djokovic continues to show he can never be written off.
Djokovic has won eight of the past 12 majors he has played at and will replace Alcaraz again as the world number one on Monday.
“It’s not my interest or business to really review what everyone talks about or thinks, whether there is a passing of the torch, or whatever you want to call it, happening or not happening in the sport,” he said.
“I focus on what I need to do and how I get myself in an optimal state so that I can win the biggest trophies in our sport. That’s what I care about.”
Djokovic was dialled in from the start of Sunday’s final, playing patiently and precisely to break for a 2-0 lead, with Medvedev looking ragged as he fell 3-0 behind.
With Medvedev deep behind the baseline when receiving, Djokovic smartly decided to serve-volley on his way to 4-1 – a tactic he employed throughout – and showed his all-round quality to close out the opening set.
Djokovic had only lost from a set up at the US Open once on 73 previous occasions, against Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka in the 2016 final.