World number one Novak Djokovic suffered his third loss in four consecutive trips to the US Open final, but vowed his latest disappointment will be inspiration to prove his best is yet to come.
Spain's Rafael Nadal defeated the 26-year-old Serbian 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 ysetreday to collect his 13th Grand Slam crown and second title on the New York hardcourts, having also beaten Djokovic in the 2010 final to complete a career Slam.
Djokovic bounced back from that US Open near-miss to have a 2011 season that was among the greatest in tennis history, winning the US and Australian Opens and Wimbledon.
He began the year with a 41-match win streak that was snapped by Roger Federer in the French Open semi-finals on the way to a 10-title season.
So Djokovic knows that the heartache of losing to the world number two again in a US Open final could be what motivates him to an incredible 2014 campaign.
"I have to (use it as motivation). It's part of my life," Djokovic said. "Many times you fall as an athlete and you have to learn the lesson and keep on going, keep on fighting, keep on improving. That's what we are here for.
"I'm still 26 and I believe the best time for my career is about to come. I feel that. As long as I believe it, the fire of the love toward the game is inside of me.
"And as long as that's present, as long as I feel it, I'm going to play this sport with all my heart, as I did in the last 10 years."
Djokovic said he could appreciate the moments of great tennis he played against Nadal in a match that roused cheers from a sellout crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium, but they didn't outweigh the misery of defeat.
"I'm aware of that. But obviously I just feel disappointed for losing," he said. "It's all sport. You know, tomorrow is a new day."
Djokovic and Nadal contested one point for 54 shots, earning a standing ovation for a moment that the Serb said sums up their rivalry, the most contested one of the Open Era and one that Nadal leads by 22-15.
"I played especially against Rafa on different surfaces points like this where you just feel that there is the last drop of energy that you need to use in order to win the point," Djokovic said.
"It's what we do when we