Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic: Rafa Cements Legacy with 2nd US Open Title
Rafael Nadal earned a spot amongst the pantheon of tennis legends on Monday when he defeated Novak Djokovic to win the 2013 U.S. Open men's singles title.
The Spaniard won the match in four sets, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, earning his second U.S. Open title, as noted by the event's official Twitter account. He was overcome with emotion after winning the match point.
At one point in the second set, the duo traded 54 shots in a volley for the ages, with Djokovic outlasting the eventual champ.
The second set was conceded eventually by Nadal. But after Djokovic's move to tie the match, he simply took it over, wearing his opponent down to the point of exhaustion.
It was a masterful performance by the now 13-time Grand Slam champion, who has now at least two times in three of the four Grand Slam events. For his career, Nadal has won the French Open eight times, the U.S. Open and Wimbledon Championship twice and the Australian Open once.
One final note regarding Nadal's accomplishment on Monday: Though he's still No. 2 player in the ATP World Rankings, Nadal claimed his spot as the world's best player with the win, as noted by SI.com's Jon Wertheim:
Nadal downs Djokovic, reclaiming his spot atop tennis world: Some quick thoughts on Rafael Nadal's 6-2, 3-6, 6... http://t.co/oOV4tmS4yr— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) September 10, 2013
After the match, Djokovic showed plenty of class in voicing his appreciation for Nadal's championship and his season, calling it "one of the best in history."
The gracious Djokovic isn't wrong.
He knows a thing or two about having one of the best seasons on tour. Back in 2011, the Serbian champ won 10 tournaments and nearly completed a sweep of all the Grand Slam events that year, finishing with three titles.
Nadal lost just three of 62 matches this season, winning nine tournaments—including two Grand Slam titles.
But even more impressive than his impressive season is the move Nadal made this year up the all-time Grand Slam leaderboard. When he began the 2013 season, "The King of Clay" was tied with Björn Borg and Rod Laver in fifth place all-time with 11 titles.
Not only did Nadal leave them in the dust this year, but he also leapfrogged over the Australian legend Roy Emerson, who has 12 career titles.
Nadal now sits in third place all by himself behind only Pete Sampras (14) and Roger Federer (17). Among the top three, he's the only one to win at least one title in all four Grand Slam events, which illustrates his ability to adapt and skill.
Will Rafael Nadal catch Roger Federer and win 18 Grand Slams?
The best part about all of this is the fact that Nadal, at the age of 27, still has some of his best years ahead of him.
Provided his knees continue to hold up, there's no reason to think Nadal can't pass Federer to become the greatest men's tennis player to ever live.
He's well on his way.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
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