US Open: Djokovic treating each Grand Slam like his last in bid to 'make more history'

Four-time champion aims to win third major title of the season and record-extending 24th overall

Novak Djokovic plays with a table tennis bat during Arthur Ashe Kids' Day at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. AFP
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Novak Djokovic has said he is treating each Grand Slam like it's his last as the men's record 23-time major champion makes his return to the US Open next week.

Djokovic, a four-time winner at Flushing Meadows, was absent from last year's US Open because Covid-related travel restrictions meant he was unable to enter the United States.

Since the relaxing of those rules earlier this year which now allows for unvaccinated visitors, Djokovic immediately acclimatised to American conditions by winning the Cincinnati Masters following a thrilling final against world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz.

It was the ideal preparation for Djokovic as he returns to New York City aiming to win his third Grand Slam title of the season. Djokovic will be, as ever, a leading title contender at the US Open, but he insisted he is taking nothing more granted.

"I don't know how many more slams I'll have," Djokovic, 36, told a press conference. "I'll still keep going. I don't have an end in my mind at the moment.

"I also understand that things are different when you're 36, so I have to be more appreciative, a bit more, I guess, present, treating every Grand Slam as maybe your last one in terms of commitment and performance.

"I see this every Grand Slam that I play right now as really a golden opportunity to make more history."

The last time Djokovic played at the US Open was in 2021, when his bid to complete a rare calendar year Grand Slam of all four majors was foiled by Daniil Medvedev in an agonising defeat in the final.

Djokovic, who opens his campaign on the Arthur Ashe main arena against France's Alexandre Muller on Monday, said he is relishing his return to what he described as the most "electric" atmosphere in tennis.

"The first feeling that I have is excitement to come back because it is the biggest arena we have in our sport, the biggest stadium, and definitely the most fun, electric, exciting atmosphere out there in tennis, playing night session in Arthur Ashe, no doubt," Djokovic said.

With Djokovic absent in 2022, Spain's Carlos Alcaraz emerged to claim the US Open crown.

Since then, Djokovic and Alcaraz have developed a fierce rivalry, with the Spaniard winning a five-set classic in the Wimbledon final last month, before Djokovic bounced back with a pulsating win in the Cincinnati Open final last weekend.

While most neutrals will be craving a Djokovic-Alcaraz rematch in the US Open final on September 10, Djokovic said he is looking no further than Monday's opener.

"I think it's also in a way disrespectful to your next opponent if you're already thinking about your finals matchup," Djokovic said. "Even though I've had tremendous success ... that kind of mindset never really resonated with me.

"But Carlos is No 1 in the world. He's definitely one of the best players in the world the last couple years.

"Sure, there's always an eye that follows him from my team, from any other team. I know that the same goes for me probably. We follow each other."

Updated: August 27, 2023, 9:49 AM