Novak Djokovic on course for 24th grand slam
Tom Brady issued a message of support to Novak Djokovic after he reached the US Open Final. The Serbian resisted late pressure from teenager Ben Shelton in the semifinals to win 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(4) and stay on course for a 24th Grand Slam title – and fourth in New York.
After the match, footage emerged of the pair of sporting greats catching up in the corridors of Arthur Ashe Stadium. Brady, who was accompanied by his children, told the 36-year-old in a short and powerful statement. “Keep kicking a** like always”.
Djokovic’s response was just as telling, saying simply: “Trying.”
As the pair continued speaking, the former New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers star admitted he could not watch Djokovic’s match because he was traveling from Miami. “I wish we could’ve seen you play tonight,” Brady said before he pointed at his children and continued: “But they had school in Miami, so we had to let them finish, then we flew up.”
He added: “But I was hoping you’d have the night match,” before Djokovic replied: “Yeah I know.” Djokovic and Brady have been friends for several years. The seven-time Super Bowl winner last watched the Serbian – who won the title in New York in 2011, 2015 and 2018 – at this year’s French Open.
Brady sat in his friend’s box as he watched him defeat Casper Ruud to break the record for the number of Grand Slams won by a male.
After defeating Croatian qualifier Borna Gojo 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 to reach the US Open quarterfinals, Djokovic spoke of the delight of having fellow elite athletes such as Brady come to watch him play.
“Tom Brady being in my box for Roland Garros finals and sitting next to my wife, was a huge honor,” he said. “I have a relationship with Tom for several years. We go back. I have tremendous respect for him. I try to maintain and nurture relationships with athletes from different sports because, as an athlete, of course, I relate to them. I identify myself with what they are doing and I can understand the pain, the sacrifice, the dedication.
“I respect the greatness, especially the guys that have made it to an all-time great level in their respective sports. Those are the kind of people that you want to be around. You want to learn things from them because you never know, there are things that can be so inspirational, as they are in my relationship with Tom.”
Brady will have another chance to watch Djokovic in action at Flushing Meadows when he appears in Sunday’s final. The tennis legend was able to neutralize Shelton’s thunderous serve and broke the youngster five times while winning 84% of his own first-serve points. He struck 28 winners compared to 25 unforced errors and won 88% of net points in a very consistent two-hour and 40-minute display.
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“These are the kinds of matches and occasions that I still thrive on and get me going and inspire me every day to try and work as hard as the young guys,” Djokovic said. “The Grand Slams are the ones that motivate me the most to play my best tennis, perform my best tennis.
“I knew prior to the quarterfinals that I would play an American player and that is never easy. To control the nerves and be composed in the moments that matter. Today things were going really smoothly for me and then he broke back and it was anyones game at the end of the third set.
“This is the kind of atmosphere we all like to play in, so I am really, really pleased with this win today.”
Djokovic’s opponent in the final will be Daniil Medvedev after he recorded a surprise win over defending champion Carlos Alcaraz in four sets. It means Sunday’s showdown will be a repeat of the 2021 US Open final when the third seed beat Djokovic to win his first Grand Slam and end his opponent’s hopes of winning all Grand Slams in the same year.
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