‘Close friend’: Novak Djokovic pays tribute to late great Kobe Bryant after US Open win

IANS Photo

IANS Photo

New York, September 11 (IANS): Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic paid a heartfelt tribute to Kobe Bryant after winning the US Open 2023 men's singles event here.

Djokovic defeated Medvedev in straight sets to win the title at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Ahead of the trophy presentation, Djokovic paid a tribute to Bryant, who had tragically passed away in 2020. The Serbian wore a t-shirt that had an image of him with the LA Lakers legend and the message 'Mamba Forever' written on it.

“I thought of doing this T-shirt eventually if I got the chance to win the tournament. It was about seven days ago. I didn't share it with anyone until a few days ago when I asked my people to help me out to make this shirt,” Djokovic was quoted as saying.

“Kobe was a close, close friend. We chatted a lot about the winner's mentality when I was struggling with an injury and trying to make my comeback, work my way back to the top of the game."

Earlier, the 36-year-old Serbian won his fourth US Open and a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title after eliminating Medvedev in straight sets in the final here.

The battle between the second and the third seed saw Djokovic cruise past Medvedev 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3. With the victory, he became the oldest US Open men's singles champion in the Open Era.

Having also won the Australian Open and the French Open this year, Djokovic became the first man to win three Grand Slams singles titles in a season four times.

The win also marked a revenge to Medvedev, who in 2021 in straight sets halted Djokovic's pace to become the first man to clinch all four Grand Slams in the same year since Rod Laver in 1969.

Following his victory, Djokovic will also return to the world No. 1 spot on Monday.