Nadal Crowns Brilliant Year With US Open Title

Rafael 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 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.

“I never thought something like this could happen,” said the 27-year-old, who watched last year’s U.S. Open on television at home during a seven-month absence from the Tour due to a knee injury.

“I feel very lucky about what happened since I came back.”

Luck has accounted for a very small sliver of his remarkable season.

Since rejoining the Tour in February, Nadal has reached the finals in 12 of his 13 tournaments, winning 10 of them.

The Spaniard said beating Djokovic made this victory even more meaningful.

“Playing against Novak is a very special feeling,” he said at the trophy ceremony. “Probably no one brings my game to the level that Novak does.”

The match was a Tour-record setting 37th meeting between the two rivals, eclipsing the 36 clashes between John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl. Nadal improved his lead in their series to 22-15.

The left-hander from Mallorca collected prize money of $2.6 million.

Nadal also pocketed an extra $1 million 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 duo have staged some of the most memorable matches in recent seasons, with Djokovic winning a six-hour tilt in the 2012 Australian Open final, and Nadal claiming a classic semi-finals win this year at Roland Garros by 9-7 in the fifth set.

QUALITY TENNIS

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.

Among the host of celebrities and public figures watching the game, Queen Sofia of Spain was on hand to cheer on Nadal.

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.

Djokovic raised both arms above his head and shook them in triumph to cheers from the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.

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 Nadal 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.

TURNING POINT

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.

“It’s all my fault,” said Djokovic. “I made some unforced errors in the crucial moments with forehands and dropped the serve twice when I should not have.

“Then he started playing much, much better after that, and I obviously could not recover.”

Sensing victory, Nadal was not to be denied.

The Spaniard broke the 26-year-old Serb with a booming forehand 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 serving out the victory.

“It means a lot for me to have this trophy,” Nadal said later, admiring the shining silver cup. “It’s just amazing.”

Nadal beats Djokovic to win record seventh French Open

Spain’s Rafa Nadal beat Serbia’s Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-3 2-6 7-5 to win a record seventh French Open title on Monday.

The number two seed overtook Sweden’s Bjorn Borg, who won six Roland Garros titles, and ended Djokovic’s hopes of becoming the third man to win four consecutive grand slams.

Play had been suspended on Sunday because of rain with the Spaniard a break down in the fourth set, but he broke back in the first game on Monday.

The match was heading towards a fourth-set tiebreak but the number two seed set up a break point in the 12th game and Djokovic’s dream ended with a double fault.

Nadal claims seventh Barcelona Open title

Rafa Nadal became the first player in the open era to win two tournaments seven times when he fought off tenacious Spanish compatriot David Ferrer 7-6 7-5 to win a thrilling Barcelona Open final on Sunday.

In a repeat of last year’s title match and 10 years to the day since he made his World Tour debut, Nadal came out on top in a claycourt slugfest between the nation’s two best players that wowed the capacity crowd in the Catalan capital.

The world No 2, fresh from clinching a record eighth straight Monte Carlo Masters crown last week, claimed the giant Conde de Godo trophy for the seventh time in eight years with his 34th straight win at the event.

It was the 25-year-old French Open champion’s 48th career title and his 34th triumph on his beloved clay.

“Without doubt it was my most difficult match since the start of the clay season,” Nadal said in an interview with Spanish television.

“I think that David more than deserved to win this title and I really wish him the best for the rest of his career.”

Sixth-ranked Ferrer went toe to toe with his Davis Cup teammate in a closely-fought first set but failed to convert five set points on his opponent’s serve when leading 6-5 and faded badly to lose the tiebreak 7-1.

Meeting Nadal for a fourth time in the Barcelona final and chasing an ATP-best fourth title this year, he looked spent at that stage but after losing his serve to fall 3-1 behind managed to conjure the energy to break back.

He then drew on all his famed stamina and tenacity to carve out a 5-4 lead but again failed to convert when it counted and Nadal produced probably the shot of the tournament to help break the Ferrer serve and level at 5-5.

He just managed to get a racket on a Ferrer drive to lift the ball high over the net before anticipating his opponent’s smash and playing a miraculous return that surprised his opponent into offering up a simple volley.

FINAL STRAW

That appeared to be the final straw for Ferrer and Nadal reeled off the next three games, sealing victory with a backhand winner before leaping into the air to celebrate.

“David always takes you to the limit and I really had some good fortune in that first set,” he said.

“When you have five set points against you and you save all of them obviously there is a good deal of luck involved,” he added. “It was something of a lottery but it came down on my side and I am sorry for him but very happy.”

An exhausted-looking Ferrer, who has managed only four wins against Nadal in 18 meetings on all surfaces, paid tribute to his compatriot, with whom he now heads to the capital for the Madrid Open starting on Friday.

“Rafa is Rafa and he is very good,” Ferrer told Spanish TV.

“I have lost four times to him here in the final now but I know I have lost to one of the greats,” added the 30-year-old.

“He is a very good player and as a person even better.”

Nadal made his ATP Tour debut at the Mallorca Open aged 15 on April 29, 2002, beating Paraguay’s Ramon Delgado 6-4 6-4 in the first round.

He is now only six short of Thomas Muster (40) on the list of open era clay title winners, with Guillermo Vilas the overall leader (45).

The only players to have beaten him in a clay final are world No 1 Novak Djokovic and No 3 Roger Federer, who have both done it twice.

 

Nadal out to halt the Grand Slam beatdowns

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal says he’s not obsessed with beating Novak Djokovic despite some heavy soul searching after seven straight losses to the world No 1, the last three in Grand Slam finals.

“I don’t have the spirit of revenge. I don’t have the spirit of obsession of another player,” Nadal said on Thursday at the ATP Tour’s Indian Wells Masters series tournament.

“I want to improve to beat Novak and Roger (Federer). I try every day to improve my level of tennis.

“But whenever I go on the court for practice I don’t think about Novak, I think about getting better.”

Spaniard Nadal says he’s ready to reclaim his throne as the top ranked player in the world, but that path clearly goes through Djokovic, who defeated Nadal in the final of this year’s Australian Open 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5 to win his fifth Grand Slam title and third in a row.

The match lasted almost six hours, the longest Grand Slam final in history, and marked Djokovic’s seventh-straight win over the clay court specialist, beginning with last year’s final here in the California desert.

“It was a great match, great quality and it was physically demanding and emotional. He won, I lost and I was happy to be part of that,” said Nadal, who is playing his first tournament since the Australian Open.

World No 2 Nadal holds a 16-14 career record over Djokovic but couldn’t overcome the Serb in the most recent Aussie Open, US Open and Wimbledon.

“You have to have a reference on what you have to do to improve,” said Nadal, who won the 2011 French Open. “I prefer to be in front.”

Nadal, 25 said there is no magic formula to beating Djokovic. It is going to come down to hard work.

“He brings tennis to another level. But nobody is forever. There was Federer then something happened and then Djokovic and in three to five years when I come back here there will be somebody better than him. I don’t know if it will be me the one to have success.

“Victories for everybody have an end.”

Nadal, Indian Wells champion in 2007 and 2009 — will play a South American in his opening second round match of the men’s draw which got under way on Thursday.

If he gets past either Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer or Colombian Alejandro Falla, who played on Friday, he would be on track to possibly face world No 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or tenth seeded Janko Tipsarevic in the quarterfinals.

“I feel I am hitting more winners than before,” said Nadal, who is 31-5 at Indian Wells.