Reuters - Novak Djokovic probably felt like he was battling against 20,001 people in the US Open final, with Grand Slam king Roger Federer on the other side of the net backed by an Arthur Ashe Stadium full of his opponent's fervent supporters.
As the match reached its gripping climax, they cheered every point Federer won and even, alas, celebrated Djokovic's errors as the Serb dug deep to eke out a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 triumph.
There may have been a time when Djokovic would have been unsettled by his treatment but the world No. 1 swallowed any resentment and maintained his composure until he found himself kissing the silver trophy for his 10th Major title.
"I can't sit here and criticise the crowd," said Djokovic, who crowned a brilliant season in which he won three Grand Slam events and was runner-up in the fourth at Roland Garros. "On the contrary, I think it's logical to expect that a great player and a champion like Roger has the majority of the support anywhere I play him.
"He absolutely deserves to have the support he does because of all the years and success that he had and the way he carries himself on and off the court. No question about it." While Federer reached exalted status with his collection of an all-time record 17 Grand Slam titles, Djokovic is now the player dominating the men's game.
He has won nine Majors in the last five years, collecting the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles in 2011 just as he has this year, and has held down the No. 1 ranking in four of the past five seasons.
Djokovic said he appreciated this treble even more than his 2011 breakthrough. "I'm a different player, a different person today than I was 2011," he said.