Rafa Nadal smashes Djokovic in thrilling US Open final
Spaniard in the form of his life as a great New York final produces one astonishing rally of 52 shots
AHEAD of the US Open final, Novak Djokovic had described his opponent Rafa Nadal as "the best player at the moment this year". And so it proved on Monday night as the Spaniard beat his Serb opponent to claim his second US Open title.
For Nadal, his thrilling four-set victory was all the sweeter because last year he was out for seven months with a serious knee injury. At one stage the prognosis was so dismal there was talk that tennis may have already seen the best of the 27-year-old Majorcan. But against Djokovic yesterday he showed he is in the form - and fitness - of his life.
"For a few things, this season is probably the most emotional one in my career," Nadal said later. "Having this success is amazing. I never expected it. That's life and I'm lucky to have what I'm having."
The 23,000 spectators in the Arthur Ashe stadium can also consider themselves lucky to have witnessed a final of the highest quality. Spread over four hours and 21 minutes, the contest produced one astonishing rally of 52 shots - the longest rally in the tournament by 20 shots.
Though Djokovic went into the final as the tournament number one, Nadal had won all 21 of his hardcourt matches this year and he started the stronger of the two, taking the first set 6-2 with a series of blistering forehands.
But Djokovic stormed back in the second set as his own forehand found its range. The Serb won the second set 6-3 and was 2-0 up in the third when his momentum finally began to falter.
Nadal seized his chance, fighting his way back to take the set as his booming forehand wore down the resistance of Djokovic. The fourth set was a formality, a shattered Djokovic overwhelmed 6-1 as Nadal clinched his 13th Grand Slam title.
"Thirteen is an amazing number," said Nadal, who is now one behind Pete Sampras in the all-time list of Grand Slam titles and four adrift of Roger Federer who reigns supreme. Asked if Federer’s tally was in his sights, Nadal jokingly asked for patience. "Let me enjoy today! For me is much more than what I ever thought, what I ever dreamed. I said that when I had a few Slams less, but is true."
For the 26-year-old Djokovic it was another day of disappointment in New York. He has now lost four of his five US Open final matches yet he was characteristically gracious in defeat. "He was too good, he definitely deserved to win this match and the trophy," he said of Nadal. "I was saying before, he’s definitely one of the best tennis players ever to play the game." ·