Rafael Nadal won the US Open after slugging it out for three and half hours against Novak Djokovic at Flushing Meadows. Nadal produced some amazing tennis to win the match 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
As Djokovic hit the last point into the net, Nadal crashed to the ground in tears.
Rod Laver, who was present in Arthur Ashe Stadium, just saw another extraordinary tennis player overcome his record of 12 Grand Slam titles. Djokovic, though he put up a brave fight, could do nothing against the Spaniard, who produced some stunning strokes after returning from injury.
In the first set, it was all on Nadal, who comfortably won it 6-2. Djokovic's serve didn't really have the momentum to keep Nadal quiet, and the Spaniard exploited this.
He adopted a rather different strategy in the first. On Djokovic's serve he attacked the ball and showed more aggression, while on his own serve he played the waiting game, which led to long service games from Nadal. Instead of going for the winners he relied on Djokovic making the errors and he did, finishing the set with 14 unforced errors compared to Nadal's four.
Nadal broke him in the third game and the penultimate game of the set. Overall, Nadal made short work of Djokovic in the first set.
The second set, however was a change of fortunes as Djokovic won it 6-3 with a stunning backhand winner down the line. Nadal adopted a different strategy as he went out to attack all the balls and ended up losing some crucial points.
Djokovic started hitting his forehand more potently and played some excellent passing shots. He converted 90% of his approaches to the net. Even though he made the more unforced errors, his superior volume of winners won him the set.
The Serb broke in the sixth game but Nadal broke immediately on Djokovic's serve. But, after a long game of ten minutes, the world number one broke Nadal's serve in the penultimate game and closed down the set immediately on his serve.
As both the players looked to attack, it increased the average shots in each rally and some long ones were played out, with the longest being 54 shots. Despite not having won as convincingly as Nadal in the first set, Djokovic did do enough to unsettle Nadal.
Nadal came back strongly in the third set and showed why he was unbeaten on hard courts since his return. Nadal played some breath-taking tennis to seal the third set 6-4 after 61 minutes of hardwork. Early on in the first game, Djokovic broke Nadal and took a lead. But Nadal came back strongly and broke back Djokovic.
In the penultimate game, Djokovic was up 40-0 on Nadal's serve but the Spaniard held his nerve and showed amazing courage to win the game.
Eventually, he broke Djokovic in the next game and secured a 2-1 lead as Djokovic hit a forehand long. In what was an evenly matched set, Nadal's courage and character coupled with Djokovic's high rate of errors proved to be the difference in the third set.
Nadal took an early brake in the fourth as Novak conceded the game too easily. Nadal's forehand was getting more potent with the point, and he covered a lot of ground to make Djokovic sweat for each point.
Djokovic made some poor decisions and hit his routine shots wide. Nadal raced into a 3-0 lead before Djokovic was back on track.
He held his serve but couldn't do much about Nadal's service game. It was a rejuvenated Nadal at full form and virtually no one could have stopped him.
However, one game was all Novak could take in the fourth set as Nadal wrapped up the set 6-1 after two games full of errors by Djokovic. The fourth set had nothing but Nadal written all over it. Novak could do nothing but watch Nadal win the US Open.
There ended an amazing tournament that delighted us for two weeks. But the final, three-and-a-half hours of eye-catching tennis was the best match in the tournament.
Rafael Nadal has perennially struggled at the US Open but put those complaints to bed by winning the title for the second time. While the scoreline may not seem to be so competitive, those who witnessed the match surely would have realised the amazing quality of tennis produced by the two stalwarts in this match.
While Nadal's vigour and strength was visible in this match many would have missed the fight put up by Djokovic. This match had everything in it - silly errors, those long rallies, Nadal all over the place, Novak's brilliant backhands, Nadal's grunting, the amazing forehands by Djokovic.
But the most eye-catching of all were Nadal's few forehand winners which he hit on the bounce to perfection down the line. This brought back memories of Federer playing in his prime.
Having said all this, you would have realised what an exciting match we have witnessed. Nadal is back on track and it will take a superhuman effort to stop him.
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