Rafa Nadal of Spain bites the trophy as he celebrates winning the US Open final against Novak Djokovic of Serbia at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City on Monday.
NEW YORK: Rafa Nadal crowned his brilliant year by defeating world number one Novak Djokovic to win the US Open title at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday and earn his 13th Grand Slam singles crown.
The Spaniard earned his second major championship this season following his French Open triumph, sealing the 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win when Djokovic dumped a forehand into the net, sending Nadal down onto his back before rolling face down and sobbing in joy.
Nadal’s career total of 13 Grand Slam wins moves 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 US 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.
“I never thought something like this could happen,” said the 27-year-old, who watched last year’s US Open on television at home during a seven-month absence from the Tour due to a knee injury.
He added: “I feel very lucky about what happened since I came back.”
The left-hander from Mallorca collected prize money of $2.6m.
Nadal also pocketed an extra $1m for having topped the standings in the US Open run-up series of events, matching the $3.6m 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.”
The quality of tennis rose throughout Monday’s match, translating into long rallies, brilliant defense and booming winners that had the centre court on their feet roaring their appreciation.
Nadal rewarded his fans with a meticulous opening set, winning with relative ease with a pair of service breaks.
The Spaniard, dashing around the court with speed and ease, handled the windy conditions easily, making just four unforced errors to 14 by Djokovic in the first set.
Djokovic turned up the intensity and outslugged Nadal to win the second set. The top-seeded Serb claimed a rare service break off Nadal in the sixth game, taking a 4-2 lead by winning an exhausting 54-stroke rally when he handcuffed Nadal with a backhand to his feet.
The Spaniard had held serve in 81 of 82 games on his way to the final.
But that feeling of exultation for Djokovic was short-lived as the Spaniard broke right back to bring the set back on serve at 4-3.
Djokovic again showed his determination by seizing the advantage in the next game, breaking Nadal with a sizzling backhand crosscourt winner and then ending the set on serve in the next game with a backhand winner down the line.
Djokovic made it three breaks in a row against the formidable Nadal in the opening game of the third set, setting the Spaniard down at love.
Nadal leveled the set in the sixth game, foiling the Serb’s serve to make it 3-3.
The match might have turned three games later.
Facing triple break point at 0-40, the Spaniard fought back ferociously, scrambling for every ball to thwart Djokovic, snuffing out the third break point with his first ace of the match on a 125-mph bullet and held after the second deuce.
That seemed to take some of the fight out of the Serb, who was broken in the next game when Nadal blasted a forehand winner up the line to move one set from victory.
The Spaniard broke the Serb with a booming forehand to take a 2-0 lead, and broke him again to make it 5-1 before serving out the victory. REUTERS