(September 9, 2013) World No. 2 Rafael Nadal continued a perfect season on the hard courts when he defeated No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final of the US Open on Monday night in Flushing Meadows 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Nadal is 22-0 on hard courts in 2013. The victory gives the Spaniard his 13th major, one behind Pete Sampras and four behind all-time leader Roger Federer at 17.
This is Nadal’s second major of the year. He defeated David Ferrer to win the French Open in June.
Nadal was dominant in the first set, breaking his Serbian opponent twice to take the set 6-2 Nadal won 80% of first serve points to Djokovic’s 50%. Nadal committed only 4 unforced errors to Djokovic’s 14.
Djokovic turned the tables in the second set when his broke Nadal in the sixth game, a game which included an incredible 54-shot rally to take a 4-2 lead. He held the rest of the way for 6-3.
The third set proved to be the undoing of Djokovic. He opened the set with a break of serve and ran up a 3-1 lead. Nadal won the next three straight games to get back on serve up 4-3.
While serving at 4-all in the third set, Nadal fell behind 0-40, slipping and falling. Nadal recovered to hold on a forehand winner to end a 22-point rally and then sealed the game with his first ace.
Leading at 5-4, Nadal broke Djokovic to win the third set 6-4. Nadal displayed his famous lawnmower fist pumps in celebration.
“I had my momentum from midway second set to end of the third where I was supposed to, you know, use and realize the opportunities that were presented to me, and I didn’t do it,” Djokovic said.
“I didn’t deserve to win in the end.”
“It was a really important set and was a really special one, ” Nadal said. “I started so slow the first game, but the end of the second, beginning of the third, Novak was playing just amazing.
“When Novak plays that level, I am not sure if nobody can stop him. I know that was really important stays only one break behind. If I lose the second break, then is over, the third set.
“So I tried to be there, keep fighting for every ball, and tried to be focused in every moment and tried to wait for my moment.
“So I know if I am only one break behind I will have my chance.”
Nadal closed the three-hour and 21-minute match match by taking the fourth set easily, 6-1.
“Very, very emotional, no?” Nadal said after the match. “Probably only my team knows how much (this) means for me.
“Playing against Novak always is a very special feeling. Probably nobody brings my game to that limit like Novak did.”
“It was disappointing that I dropped the third set, even though I felt like especially in first four, five games I was the one who was, you know, dictating the play,” Djokovic explained.
“But it’s all my fault, you know. I made some unforced errors in the crucial moments with forehands and dropped the serve twice when I should not have. You know, next thing you know, all of a sudden it’s two sets to one for him.
“Then he started playing much, much better after that, and, you know, I obviously could not recover after that loss.”
Nadal pockets 3.6 million dollars – 2.6 million from winning the tournament and a one million dollar bonus from the Emirates US Open Series after having the best results over the summer.
Nadal has won 10 titles in 2013, compiling a 60-3 record overall.
“This is probably the most emotional season of my career, ” Nadal said.
“I mean, many times you fall as an athlete, and, you know, you have to learn the lesson and keep on going, keep on fighting, keep on improving,” Djokovic said of the loss.
“That’s what we are here for. I’m still 26, and I believe best time for my career is about to come. I feel that. I believe that. As long as I believe it, the fire of the love towards the game is inside of me. And as long as that’s present, as long as I feel it, I’m going to play this sport with all my heart, as I did in last 10 years.”
“He won so much this year,” Djokovic said of Nadal. “I’m still No. 1 of the world in the rankings, but year to year he’s far, far ahead, and he has much more chances to end up as No. 1.
“Look, you know, there is still tournaments to go. So we’ll see. I just try to prepare myself for China.”
Nadal’s record against Djokovic is now 22-15.
“When we play against each other, always pushing each other to the limit,” Djokovic said. That’s the beauty of our matches and our rivalry, I guess, in the end.
Nadal was asked about winning his 13th major: “For me, is much more than what I ever thought, what I ever dreamed. I said that few slams, when I had few slams less, but is true.
“Means a lot, this one, for me. Only thing I can say is the same like I do every time. I gonna keep working hard. I gonna keep doing my things to have more chances in the future to be competitive and to give me ‑‑ produce more chances to win the tournaments like this one.
“So that’s what I gonna try. Then you never know when that start, when that finish, but 13 is an amazing number.”
“He definitely deserved to win this match today and this trophy,” said Djokovic. “13 Grand Slams for a guy who is 27-years-old is incredible. I mean, whatever he achieved so far in his career is something that everybody should respect, no question about it.”