The Age Of Rafael Nadal: Rafa Wins The U.S. Open, Completes Career Slam
In a U.S. Open where the final was pushed to Monday for a third year in a row, Nadal defeated a very in-form Novak Djokovic to take the one title he needed to complete the rare career slam and all by the age of 24.
While the match may not have been on par with the Federer vs Djokovic semifinal, it was still full of exquisite shot-making and at times the highest drama possible.
With a snarl on his face, a determined Nadal ripped forehands, backhands and played the kind of defense that has been the crux of his game for so long.
Both players started out nervous with three breaks of serve over a five-game span but before long, both players began to play high-level tenni
At times the level of play was near to perfection.
Although he was broken three times by Djokovic in the final, he tied Andy Roddick's 2003 title run with the least total breaks of serve for a U.S. Open.
If that doesn't tell you something about his serve and complete game, then you apparently were probably watching a replay from years' past.
The big break came in the first set after Nadal broke Djokovic for the second time. A frustrated Djokovic smashed his racquet and things seemed to point to a quick final.
Djokovic, however had other ideas.
He stepped up his play and broke Nadal quickly to go up 4-1 before Nadal stormed back to tie it at 4-4 30-30 before rain interrupted play.
After a two-hour break, Djokovic came out firing and took the set. From that point it was a best of three match.
Nadal would have none of it, though.
With brilliant shot-making from both players, the level of play was at it's peak in the third set.
Djokovic's service game was in danger almost all night, but he saved break point after break point and showed the courage that took him through Federer in the semifinals.
In the end however, Nadal broke Djokovic to take the third set and the fourth followed fairly quickly.
Rafa fell to the ground exhausted after Djokovic's errant forehand went wide.
You could see tears on his face and the relief at winning the one title he wanted more than anything. Djokovic was tough until the very end and made Nadal earn every point, but eventually the ending that was perceived to be inevitable indeed came true.
The question now is are we witnessing the renaissance of Rafa? The age of Nadal?
Tennis is certainly a sport where a player can be great one second and a once-great in the course of a single season, all signs at the moment point to yes.
One of the things that makes Nadal so great is his ability and desire to throw himself against an unassailable wall until he conquers it.
The idea that he cannot conquer some obstacle that he sets for himself is unthinkable.
With Federer's reign seemingly at its end, it's ripe time for Nadal to begin his own reign.
To do so, he needs to stay healthy which is always suspect.
But if he can maintain his health and level of play, it's possible that in next few years, Nadal might be just as dominant as Federer was in his best years.
I believe that with the right schedule and plenty of rest, Nadal could very well win tow or three slams a year over the next few years.
In 2008 when he was fairly healthy, Nadal won two slams and became No. 1.
Although there were a few health blips this year, Nadal has remained fairly healthy and for that he was won himself another three slams.
Regardless though, Nadal has already showed why he should be considered as one of the all-time best players to walk on a tennis court, and he is only 24.
Imagine how great the second half of his career might be.
I wrote an article right after Nadal won Monte Carlo this year. I wrote that he was like a phoenix rising from the ashes that day. I would say he has risen from the ashes indeed.
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