Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 on Monday to win his second U.S. Open title. Here are three thoughts after the 27-year-old Spaniard collected his 13th Grand Slam title while improving to 22-0 on hard courts and 60-3 overall this year:
All hail Rafael Nadal, the king of clay hard courts. A day after the top two women played a match of can-you-top-this, the men followed suit. For more than three hours, as afternoon transitioned to evening, Nadal and Djokovic played a dazzling match.
They split the first two sets (of course they did), and then Nadal went into beast mode. He hit forehands that veered on brutal. He turned defense into offense. He zinged winners off his back feet. He unsheathed a few new weapons. He sliced to brilliant effect, changing pace and frustrating Djokovic. He altered his court positioning, making a conscious effort not to be pinned deep, especially on the backhand side. He returned well, breaking Djokovic seven times. When Nadal declared himself “very hoppy,” I think he means that literally — spry, springy and absent of knee trouble.