Tennis will always be my game and an exciting one at this point in my life. Yesterday (Sept. 9) and today (Sept. 10) I watched both the women and men’s finals. This was the first time in any major tournament that the finals were contested between the no. 1 and no. 2 players in the world of tennis.
Nadal and Djokovic cruised to the finals in contrasting fashions. Nadal seemed to have smoothly hurdled past Tommy Robredo and Richard Gasquet in the quarter and semi-finals respectively. Djokovic, on the other hand, struggled his way through a difficult road before he overcame those powered charges from Mikhail Youzhny and Stanislas Wawrinka. I won’t say though that it was inferiority in energy levels which made Djokovic succumbed to the games of Nadal. Apparently, not. As Nadal puts it, “I think it is only Novak who brings my game to this level”. There was no doubt that Nadal bested Djokovic with his formidable forehand which had caused more errors in Djokovic’s returns. Djokovic’s best weapon against Nadal would have been more serve aces. I had predicted that if he makes less than twenty aces, Nadal will win this match.
I won’t give any further analysis, however I want to indulge in that, and for that matter I will just have to reprint Nicholas J. Walz’s post below (source: http://www.usopen.org).
Rafael Nadal won his second US Open crown, beating Novak Djokovic, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the men’s final, closing out the 2013 tournament inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. It was Nadal’s 13th Grand Slam singles title, moving him into third place all-time amond men, just one shy of Pete Sampras’ 14 and four behind Roger Federer’s 17.
The contest was the 37th professional bout between the rivals – most for any head-to-head matchup in the Open Era, with Nadal entering the match holding a career win-loss advantage, 21-15.
The Spaniard surged to an early lead, utilizing aggressive shot-making to earn an early break. Spin and speed were factors that favored the Spaniard, as he adjusted to the stadium winds and outslugged the Serb. Nadal broke his opponent a second time to get to 5-2, the served out the set. In the first stanza, Nadal would commit just four unforced errors to Djokovic’s 14.
After an hour of sluggish play, Djokovic awoke in the second set. While Nadal had been broken just once in 82 service games in his first six wins in the tournament, Djokovic broke the Spaniard twice in the second. The Serb’s shots started to find their range, and he started to hold his own in rallying with one of the best ground-strokers in the game. What’s more, his erve started to beome a more effective weapon. With more pop and renewed pep, Djokovic made it 5-3 with a forceful two-handed backhand at the net after Nadal tried to get too fine with a drop shot. The top seed then held serve to even the match at a set apiece.
The match turned in the third set. At 4-all, Djokovic was up triple break point at, but Nadal dug in and fought his way back to deuce, eventually saving three break points on his serve. Djokovic got it to 30-0 on his serve in the next game, but Nadal stole the match’s momentum with four straight points, the last coming with a down-the-line winner.
Nadal controlled the fourth and final set, breaking Djokovic twice to take the set 6-1, the dominating performance putting an exclamation point on his remarkable run for the title.
“Playing against Novak is a very special feeling – probably nobody brings my game to that limit like Novak did,” said Nadal, holding the trophy during his on-court victory address. Turning to his opponent, the victor said, “You are an amazing player, and you’re having an amazing career. I’m sure that [you] will finish [your] career being one of the best in the history of tennis.”
“He definitely deserved to win this match today and this trophy,” said Djokovic of Nadal. “Obviously, it’s disappointing to lose a match like this but, again, it was a huge privilege and honor to be fighting for this trophy, one of the most valuable and most important trophies in our sport.”
WHAT IT MEANS: Though he still will be ranked No. 2 after this event, Nadal is clearly the top men’s player on the planet – an amazing comeback to form in less than a year’s time. After missing last year’s tournament due to a knee injury, Nadal roared through the draw here, losing serve just four times (three times in this match) and showcasing a game that has put him on a fast track back toward the top. His perfect run here makes him 22-0 on hard courts this season.
Nadal collects $3.6 million in prize money for the win here, cashing in on the $1 million bonus afforded him for also winning this season’s Emirates Airline US Open Series Bonus Challenge, matching the largest payout in US Open history set just one day ago by women’s singles winner (and women’s Bonus Challenege winner) Serena Williams. It’s the first time both winners of the Emirates Airline US Open Series have won the US Open as well.
THE QUESTION: Nadal’s win was the 60th of his career and this US Open his 13th major title. Do you think the Spaniard can challenge Roger Federer’s all-time mark for Grand Slam singles wins?