After winning a point in the U.S. Open final, and bent on proving a point, Novak Djokovic leaped and roared and threw an uppercut, then glared at some of the thousands of spectators pulling for Roger Federer.
Following another point in that game, Djokovic nodded as he smiled toward the stands. And moments later, Djokovic shook his right arm, bloodied by an early fall, and screamed, "Yes! Yes!" to celebrate a missed forehand by Federer.
The 28-year-old from Serbia appeared to be all alone out there in Arthur Ashe Stadium, trying to solve Federer while also dealing with a crowd loudly supporting the 17-time major champion proclaimed "arguably the greatest player in the history of the sport" during prematch introductions.
In the end, Djokovic handled everything in a thrill-a-minute final on a frenetic night. Thwarting Federer with his relentless defense and unparalleled returning, Djokovic took control late and held on for a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory Sunday to earn his second U.S. Open title, third major championship of the year and 10th Grand Slam trophy in all.
"An incredible season. Next to 2011 probably the best season of my life," said the No. 1-ranked Djokovic, who is 63-5 in 2015, including 27-1 at majors. "But I'm enjoying this year more than any previous one because I'm a husband and I'm a father and that makes it even more sweeter.”
While the women's draw produced an improbable all-Italian final between Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci, two players virtually unknown outside of tennis circles, the men's showcase featured the sport's two biggest names and dynamic figures.
From late in the third set to 5-2 in the fourth, Djokovic took control against a wilting Federer by claiming eight of 10 games. The 34-year-oldFederer made one last stand, breaking to get within 5-3 and holding for 5-4, but one last forehand return that flew beyond the baseline left Djokovic as the champion, pointing to his heart.
After all the attention paid to Serena Williams' bid for the first calendar-year Grand Slam, which ended with a semifinal loss at the U.S. Open, it's Djokovic who reached all four finals. He beat Andy Murray at the Australian Open in January, lost to Stan Wawrinka at the French Open in June, then beat Federer at Wimbledon in July.
Djokovic also won a trio of majors in 2011, and his career total ranks tied for seventh-most in history behind Federer.
When it was over, Federer assured the crowd he would back next year. His coach, Stefan Edberg, figures an 18th major title is still not out of reach, even though no one Federer's age has won the U.S. Open since 1970.
"He came close at Wimbledon. He came close this time. ... You still cannot count him out," Edberg said. "If he keeps playing at this level, he'll get another shot."