Rafael Nadal is back! He completed his almost perfect return from a serious knee injury that kept him sidelined through most of 2012, to capture the 2013 US Open over Novak Djokovic in four sets 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
Arthur Ashe Court was hyped, and the whole tennis world was waiting with anticipation for this heavyweight match to begin.
The match lasted 3:35 hours and had all the ups and downs you would expect from a Nadal-Djokovic match-up. After early breaks of serve in the first and several breaks in the second set for each player(2-Djokovic, 1-Nadal), the score was tied at a set apiece going to the crucial 3rd set. Now, if you watched this match closely, its hard to argue that Novak Djokovic didn’t deserve to win the 3rd set. Momentum was fully in his favor, but he couldn’t capitalize. Djokovic wasted several break point opportunities and the turning point of the match came when the score was 4-4 in the 3rd set and Djokovic was up 0-40 on Nadal’s serve looking like he was about to break and then serve for the set. Unbelievably, Nadal saved all three break points and won the Deuce battle to go up 5-4. From that point on the match was over. Nadal broke Djokovic right away to take the 3rd set 6-4. It was as if Djokovic realized that was his golden chance and he let it slip through his hands. Novak Djokovic prides himself on his strong mental fortitude, but this was a knockout blow that he could not recover from. Nadal would go on to rout Djokovic 6-1 in the 4th set to clinch the title. I was expecting a repeat of the 2012 Australian Open final or the 2013 French Open semifinal, unfortunately it was a very anticlimactic finish.
Unforced Errors: 53 Djokovic – 20 Nadal
Winners: 46 Djokovic – 27 Nadal
Break Points Won: 3/11 Djokovic – 7/12 Nadal
As the grand slam season in tennis comes to an end this year, it is clear who the most dominant player is right now. Rafael Nadal took two of the four slams (French, US), Novak Djokovic(Australian), and Andy Murray(Wimbledon). This was Rafael Nadal’s 2nd US Open title and his 13th major title overall. Nadal also increased his winning streak on hard courts to 22, and this was also Rafa’s 10th title of 2013. Are you kidding me?!? Coming off a knee injury, this season from Nadal has been one for the ages and likely will never be repeated. Most importantly for Rafael Nadal and his legion of fans, is that he stands only 4 grand slams behind Roger Federer’s all time record of 17. At age 27, he has to like his chances. Plus that French Open tournament will always be a slam and he owns that.
As for Novak Djokovic, it seems he will go back to the drawing board after what can only be seen as as a disappointing season for his standards. What’s frustrating for Djokovic fans is that his season started so well with him defending his Australian Open title. Since then, it has been a strange season as Djokovic has been in the big matches late in tournaments but has failed to produce the quality of tennis that made him so dominant in 2011 and 2012. At 26, he is still in his prime and will be a force for years to come. However, Djokovic has 6 grand slams and while that is nothing to laugh at, in this golden age of tennis, it seems Novak Djokovic will always be a great player but not a legendary one like Rafa and Fed.
Rafael Nadal is on his way to cementing himself as the greatest tennis player ever. Nadal has a certain fight that you don’t see in many athletes. He gives you nothing as an opponent and the slightest mistake or loss in focus and Rafa will punish you, simple as that. Already the undisputed king of clay, an injury free Rafael Nadal might be ready to fully takeover the men’s game.