(SI) Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic to win second U.S. Open title

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.

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One comment on “(SI) Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic to win second U.S. Open title

  1. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Yes, this year we were treated to two superb championship matches at the US Open. Both the men’s final and the women’s final showcased professional tennis at its best, with two worthy opponents fighting hard and tenaciously, with both players demonstrating why they belonged in the finals of a Grand Slam and producing great shots worthy of the occasion. It doesn’t get any better than this.

    I must admit that I find Nadal the most enjoyable tennis start to watch. When he’s healthy and in top form, like he was in Flushing Meadows this year, he takes tennis to a new level that to me is reminiscent of Michael Jordan dominating basketball when he was in his prime, or Tiger Woods doing the same in golf. Such incomparable champions just seem to be playing a different game than everyone else. It becomes not just a sport, but an art form.

    But in the same way that Tiger Woods pushed his body past its limits and permanently damaged it with the extreme contortions of his swing that drove the golf ball further than anyone else had ever hit it, I’m afraid that Rafael Nadal has likewise inflicted permanent harm on his remarkable body and he won’t be able to maintain for much longer the sort of peak performance that he displayed this year. Such supreme athletes enjoy a fleeting season of dominance, but inevitably, the time comes when their strength and skill fades. As has obviously finally happened to the seemingly immortal Roger Federer.

    And doubtless, the same fate awaits Serena Williams too, who turns 32 later this month. But in the meantime, what a treat for tennis fans!

    David Handy+