Novak Djokovic—the world’s highest-paid tennis star—clinched his 24th Grand Slam victory at the U.S. Open Sunday night, beating the young opponent who shut him out of his last U.S. Open and breaking a historic tie with Serena Williams, one day after Coco Gauff, 19, won her first major tennis title and became the first American teenager to win the Open since Williams’ victory in 1999.
Djokovic, who beat rising star Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 Sunday evening, is now the player with the most major singles championships in the Open era with 24 Grand Slam wins—surpassing Williams’ 23 titles.
Djokovic has tied Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 singles wins, many of which took place before the current era of professional tennis began in 1968.
The win was a return to U.S. Open glory for Djokovic, who lost his top spot in the rankings when he missed out on a number of tournaments because he refused to be vaccinated for Covid-19, and who lost in his last U.S. Open finals appearance in 2021—to Medvedev.
Hailed as one of the best—if not the best—men’s tennis players of all time, Djokovic has said he has no plans to retire from tennis but does appreciate every win as his career progresses: “At 36, every Grand Slam final could be the last one,” he said this week.
Djokovic will be ranked the No. 1 tennis player in the world on Monday, which would have happened even if he lost to Medvedev in the U.S. Open final—tennis rankings are decided by adding up the points players rack up based on their performance in the last year of Grand Slams, Association of Tennis Professionals Tour and other tournaments.
Meanwhile, Cori “Coco” Gauff beat Belarusian player Aryna Sabalenka, 25, by a score of 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday. Sabalenka on Monday will officially become the top-ranked female tennis player in the world despite the loss. The U.S. Open marks the first Grand Slam title for Gauff, who got close last year when she reached the final of the 2022 French Open but had yet to clinch a majors victory in her still-young career. Gauff, who first made headlines as a 15-year-old playing Wimbledon, is the first American teenager to win the U.S. Open since Serena Williams did it at age 17 in 1999—and on Saturday she said she is “ready” for the fame, money and sponsorships coming her way (she’s already endorsed by New Balance, Rolex and Barilla).
50. This year marked the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Open giving equal prize money to men and women’s champions. Gauff and Djokovic each took home $3 million for their singles wins this weekend. Medvedev and Sabalenka each made $1.5 million.
“Thank you Billie,” Gauff said Saturday as Billie Jean King stood several feet away. “For fighting for this.”
Novak Djokovic is ranked No. 1 on the Forbes list of highest-paid tennis players this year. He earned an estimated $38.4 million before taxes and agents’ fees over the past 12 months, including $25 million from endorsement deals, appearance fees, and licensing and memorabilia income. He has estimated career pre-tax earnings of more than $510 million. His U.S. Open opponent, Medvedev, is ranked the fourth highest-earning tennis player with an estimated $20.1 million made in the last year—the list did not include Williams or Federer due to their retirements. Coco Gauff made her Forbes tennis earnings debut this year and is ranked seventh—we estimate she earned $15.2 million in the last year, $12 million of which came from off-court partnerships.
Djokovic won his first major title at the Australian Open in 2008—the then-20-year-old interrupted 11 consecutive major wins by Federer and Rafael to secure the victory. The trio has since been dubbed the “Big Three” and Djokovic has gone on to win 23 more Grand Slam singles titles. Djokovic lost his 386-week streak as the world’s No. 1 ranked tennis player in March when Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz won the Italian Open. The spot was up for grabs after Djokovic lost out on major points-earning opportunities at both the U.S. Open and Australian Open in 2022, among other tournaments—he wasn’t allowed to stay in either country after refusing to be vaccinated for Covid 19. It was announced he would be able to play in this year’s open when the United States dropped its vaccination requirements for international travel in May. Medvediiv was ranked No. 3 in the world at the time of the final match on Sunday. He has enjoyed 16 weeks as No. 1 in his career, including in February 2022, when he became the first man outside of the Big Three to hold the top spot.. He has won six Masters finals and made it to four total major finals. This weekend’s U.S. Open is the first Grand Slam final Medvedev has reached since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Djokovic is one of only three male tennis players to have held all four Grand Slam titles at the same time, which he did in 2015 and 2016.
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Coco Gauff Made $3 Million With Her U.S. Open Win. The Real Riches Will Soon Follow. (Forbes)