But with consecutive major trophies at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows, where he beat Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets in Sunday's final, Djokovic returns to the top three after being out of that range since June 2017.
Djokovic added: "I would like to congratulate Juan Martin for what he's done in the last four, five years". He was, in short, out of sorts.
He had three more chances in the eighth, all saved by Djokovic in a marathon 20-minute game which left Hollywood superstar Meryl Streep clasping her head in astonishment. Three times, Djokovic steeled himself.
Newly-crowned US Open champions Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka have jumped up in the recent tennis rankings.
Novak Djokovic's US Open title win over Juan Martin Del Potro moved him joint third with Pete Sampras in the all-time list of men's tennis grand slam champions. "I'm very sad for being a loser today".
"But at the same time, life showed me that it takes time for good things, it takes time to really build them, for things to fall into place, so you can centre yourself, balance yourself and thrive. The last two months have been terrific".
Djokovic also was the champion in NY in 2011 and 2015.
Former world number one Djokovic equalled Pete Sampras' haul of 14 slams after outlasting Del Potro 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 to lift the trophy for a third time in NY.
It was after watching Pete Sampras win Wimbledon - while sitting in his parents' pizza parlour as a six-year-old - that Djokovic decided tennis was the sport for him. "She gave me some experience to play the final, because she played in the Australian Open final".
Del Potro was looking at having to become the first man since Pancho Gonales in 1949 to win the USA title from two sets down.
"The first thing I saw related to tennis on the TV was his first or second Wimbledon championship". Too [far] ahead of him with the Grand Slams.
Those produce free points against so many foes. He eventually succumbed to the mounting pressure in the third game as Djokovic looked to take over proceedings.
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Boshirov also called on the United Kingdom to apologize for the allegations, claiming their lives had been "turned upside down". They declined to give any other details about their lives, except to say they work in the nutritional supplements business.
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The XI will be unveiled by FIFA and FIFPro during the Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony in London on September 24. Forty-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is the oldest nominee on the list.
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His first goal was emphatic and he deserved his second effort to go straight in, rather than deflect off the back of the keeper. What does it mean? He's a key part of Luis Enrique's Spain team and has returned the confidence shown in him by his coach.
"I was so close to desired level, and then I just completely underplayed that match".
"I was playing at my limit nearly all the time, looking for winners", he said.
Djokovic seemed on his way to a smooth victory with a 3-1 lead in the third set, but Del Potro wasn't quite ready to surrender. This is the healthiest and fittest Del Potro has felt in years. Del Potro put 64 percent of his first serves in play compared to Djokovic's 63 percent. That prompted to chair umpire Alison Hughes to chastise them.
Despite defeat, world number three Del Potro remained proud after an achievement he never thought would have been possible during his injury hell. It all bothered Djokovic, who started yelling and gesturing toward the seats.
The tiebreaker was resolved thanks to more del Potro miscues on his forehand side, as he looked more and more worn out. 1 and 2, respectively, while Germany's Angelique Kerber climbed one place to 3.
He had hit his peak, Vajda said, at "just at the right time".
It was Djokovic's 14th Grand Slam title and the third US Open title.
"I was very, very disappointed with my performance that day", Djokovic recalled Sunday, explaining that he went hiking in the mountains in France to clear his head after that setback.
For Djokovic, he got better as the tournament progressed.
It's del Potro's first major final since he won his only one in the 2009 U.S. Open by beating Roger Federer.
He cried for a long time after the match and admitted it will be hard to get over.