In a sterling display from both players after a lackluster first set by Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal upset the No. 1-ranked Serb 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 for his second US Open title on Monday at Flushing Meadows.
The Spaniard’s 13th Grand Slam title puts him at third all time, one behind Pete Sampras’ career total and four behind all-time leader Roger Federer’s 17.
Nadal improved to 22-15 against Djokovic, and while he will hold at No. 2 on the ATP Rankings, he is well ahead of all players in 2013-only points which eventually match-up with the 52-week rankings to determine the year-end No. 1 ranking.
Nadal started strong in the windy conditions, committing only four errors in rolling to the first set. Djokovic took the second, and in the third Nadal fought off triple break point at 4-4, a point where momentum carried him to a break in the next game, then a steamroll in the final set.
“Playing against Novak is a very special feeling — probably nobody brings my game to that limit like Novak did,” Nadal said.
Djokovic admitted that leading 4-4, 40-0 and dropping serve was a blow to his confidence.
“It was disappointing that I dropped the third set, even though I felt like especially in first four, five games I was the one who was dictating the play,” Djokovic said. “But it’s all my fault. I made some unforced errors in the crucial moments with forehands and dropped the serve twice when I should not have.”
Djokovic fell to 1-4 in US Open finals.
“He definitely deserved to win this match today and this trophy,” Djokovic said. “Thirteen Grand Slams for a guy who is 27 years old is incredible. I mean, whatever he achieved so far in his career is something that everybody should respect, no question about it.”
The result is a cherry on top of the ridiculous hardcourt sundae Nadal has served up this summer in the U.S., going undefeated with titles at Montreal, Cincinnati and at the US Open. He is 22-0 in total on hardcourts in 2013 including the title at Indian Wells.
Nadal joined Serena Williams in winning both the US Open Series and the US Open, the first time that has happened, with Nadal collecting $3.6 million in US Open prize money and US Open Series bonus money.
A year ago Nadal was skipping the US Open with knee problems. Speculation was that he could be finished, or have to stick to only playing claycourt events. Now after the Spaniard’s magic knee cure, he is winning back-to-back Masters hardcourt events, and taking the pounding of winning the US Open. My how half a year off makes a difference.
With Roger Federer’s struggles magnifying, it appears Nadal is destined to take the Swiss’ GOAT title away.
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