Rafael Nadal has won his second US Open title and 13th Grand Slam crown after defeating Novak Djokovic in a punishing four-set match at New York’s Flushing Meadows yesterday.
The Spaniard beat Djokovic 6-2 3-6 6-4 6-1, to cap off a year which has now seen him capture 10 titles and stretch his season winning record to 60 victories and just three losses.
With a host of celebrity spectators looking on, Nadal claimed the first set with ease after 42 minutes, Djokovic undone by 14 unforced errors.
The omens were looking good at that stage for the 27-year-old Spaniard, who had only lost three out of 154 career Grand Slam matches when winning the first set, but the 26-year-old Serb stormed out of his slumbers and broke for 4-2 in the second set after a 54-shot rally, Nadal dumping an approach into the net.
It was only the second time the Mallorcan had dropped serve in the tournament and the setback fired him into an immediate response, hitting back at 3-4, before Djokovic broke again for 5-3 on a modest 28-shot exchange.
This time, the world No 1 backed up it up to level the final, taking the 58-minute set with a down the line winner.
Djokovic broke to love in the opening game of the third and had a point for a double break in the third before Nadal clung on to avoid dropping serve for the fourth game in a row.
The world No 2 then capitalized on a sloppy Djokovic service game to level at 3-3, but the twists and turns became a tumble for Nadal, who slipped to the floor in the ninth game.
Unruffled, he saved three break points to sneak ahead 5-4 and then unleashed a deep, fierce forehand which Djokovic could only slap long as Nadal went into a two sets to one lead.
The momentum was back with Nadal as Djokovic cursed his unforced error count, which had rocketed to 42.
Nadal fought off two break points in the opening game of the fourth set and broke a tiring Djokovic with a heat-seeker of a forehand.
He backed it up for 3-0 and repeated it against a broken-spirited Djokovic for 5-1.
Victory was Nadal’s after three hours and 21 minutes when Djokovic buried a return in the net.
“It’s very emotional. All my team knows what this means to me,” said Nadal.
“Novak always brings my game to the limit. He is an amazing player. He will go down as one of the greatest in the sport.”
The four-set win on Arthur Ashe Stadium earned Nadal a total of $3.6 million, which takes his career earnings through the $60 million mark and also edged him closer to Roger Federer’s record of 17 majors.