NEW YORK: Rafa Nadal crowned his brilliant year by defeating world number one Novak Djokovic 6-2 3-6 6-4 6-1 to win the U.S. Open men’s singles title at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday.
The number two ranked Spaniard added a second grand slam crown this season to his French Open triumph when the top-seeded Serb dumped a forehand into the net, sending Nadal down onto his back before rolling face down and sobbing in joy.
The triumph improved Nadal’s career total to 13 grand slam wins, moving him one ahead of Australian Roy Emerson and into third on the all-time list behind Roger Federer (17) and Pete Sampras (14).
Nadal, who won the 2010 U.S. Open in a final against Djokovic and then lost their finals rematch in 2011, improved his hard court record to a spotless 22-0 this year and his overall match record to a sensational 60-3.
“Playing against Novak is a very special feeling,” the 27-year-old Nadal said at the trophy ceremony. “Probably no one brings my game to the level that Novak does.”
The left-hander from Mallorca, who missed last year’s tournament at Flushing Meadows because of a knee injury, collected a $2.6 million prize.
Nadal also pocketed an extra $1 million bonus for having topped the standings in the U.S. Open run-up series of events, matching the $3.6 million haul of women’s winner Serena Williams.
“He was too good,” said Australian Open champion Djokovic. “He definitely deserved to win this match and this trophy.”
“Obviously it’s disappointing to lose a match like this. But it’s an honor and privilege to be fighting for this trophy.”
The quality of tennis rose throughout the match, translating into long rallies, brilliant defense and booming winners that had the center court on their feet roaring their appreciation.
Among a horde of celebrities from sports and entertainment world, Queen Sofia of Spain was also on hand to cheer on Nadal.
After splitting the first two sets, Nadal gained the upper hand by winning a tightly-fought third set, battling back from triple break point down in the ninth game.
After he saved serve for a 5-4 lead, the Spaniard broke Djokovic in the next game to move one set away from victory.
Smelling victory, Nadal was not to be denied.
The Spaniard broke the 26-year-old Serb with a booming forehand winner to take a 2-0 lead and with Djokovic wilting against Nadal’s powerful groundstrokes the world number two broke him again to make it 5-1 before he served out the victory. –REUTERS