Rafael Nadal won his second career US Open title with a dominating four-set win over Novak Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
The 27-year-old had his moments where it looked like he might be in trouble. However, almost every one of those pivotal points went in Nadal's favor.
The win marks the 13th Grand Slam singles title of his career, and Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated noted where that puts him among the leaders.
Rafa Nadal has won his 13th Grand Slam singles title. He is now one behind Pete Sampras and four behind Roger Federer.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) September 10, 2013
The men's final was pushed to a Monday after tournament organizers wanted to give players a day off following the semifinal. Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim thought the match was worth pushing aside whatever programming CBS had previously scheduled.
It's that 5p Monday men's final. Step aside, "Dr. Oz Show" and "Criminal Minds" rerun...— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) September 9, 2013
The first set couldn't have been more decisive in Nadal's favor. He was almost superhuman in his ability to hammer Djokovic and keep the pressure on. There was a primal quality to that first set. Nadal was a force of nature, and there was nothing Djokovic could do to stop it.
The National Post's Bruce Arthur had another comparison for Nadal's dominance.
Rafael Nadal Serena-ed Djokovic in the first set, which I did not expect— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) September 9, 2013
He won 80 percent (12 of 15) of his points on first serve and 55 percent (6 of 11) on second serve. Djokovic, on the other hand, was only at 50 percent and 44 percent, respectively. The No. 1 seed also had 14 unforced errors.
You can see set point below, courtesy of the US Open's Twitter account.
Djokovic was able to ease back into the match in the second set. He calmed his nerves and regained his composure. That was what tennis fans wanted to see. It's no fun watching one guy dominate and win three sets in a row. Fans want to see drama.
That's exactly what they got after that first set.
The second set was highlighted by a 54-point rally, which eventually ended with a Nadal unforced error.
Of course, John Isner wasn't impressed. Talk to him when you have a match that stretches over three days and the final set finishes 70-68.
What's the big deal? I play 54 shot rallies all the time :)— John Isner (@JohnIsner) September 9, 2013
With the immense crowd reaction and Djokovic standing defiant at the end of the point, you would have thought he won the match. Instead, it put Djokovic up 4-2 in the set, and he would win two of the next three games to even up the match.
The third set was even better. It was like two heavyweight boxers dishing out their best stuff, turning the fight into a slugfest.
Djokovic looked to be in control at 4-4. He had three break-point opportunities, only to have Nadal hold strong each time and end up winning the game. The Spanish star went on to break the Djoker's serve to take the set.
Spanish paper AS thought those break-point saves by Nadal ended up being the decider in the match.
Still potentially 2 sets to go, but you feel Nadal saving those 3 break points at 4-4 then breaking to win the set is a real turning point— AS English (@English_AS) September 9, 2013
There was cacophonous applause at Arthur Ashe Stadium when Nadal got one set closer to winning the US Open (h/t US Open's Vine account).
Part of Nadal's success on Monday was working Djokovic around the court. He was able to get the Serbian star out of position and then smash incomprehensible winners. One way Nadal set up those winners was with his backhand slice, which he used to great success (h/t Wertheim).
Usually excessive slicing=loss of confidence in backhand. But Nadal deploying very effectively tonight— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) September 10, 2013
Nadal started the fourth set hot. He held serve, then broke Djokovic and held serve again to get out to a quick 3-0 lead. The crowd tried its hardest to push for that fifth set, with chants of "No-le, No-le, No-le." But it was not to be. Nadal was surgical with the way he picked apart Djokovic in that fourth and final set.
It was a well-earned win for the Spaniard. He was incredible from start to finish.