Novak Djokovic became only the sixth man to ever win three of the four Grand Slam titles in the same year, overcoming Rafa Nadal in the final of the US Open and giving us one of the best games of tennis this decade. The top two ranked players in the world justified their rankings right from the start as big shots came from both men. The tow coped admirably with the task of returning such good shots, resulting in long rallies.
It was the defending champion Nadal who got the first break of the match to go 0-2 up and at that point looked confident of defending his title. Djokovic however had other ideas and broke straight back. After the first two games the Serbian then won the next six games in a row, including 3 breaks, to take the first set 6-2 with some breathtaking shots leaving Nadal pondering what he could do to try and stop the onslaught.
The second set started much the same as the first with Nadal taking the early break of serve, but once again the Spaniard was helpless to stop Djokovic breaking back. Nadal improved in the second set but was still left with the seemingly impossible task of working out how to beat the Serbian and Djokovic took another break off Nadal following a double fault, then served out for the set to take it 6-4.
Djokovic got the first break of serve in the third set in what was only the third game of the set. Things really did begin look ominous for Nadal. Credit to the Spaniard that he fought back and forced Djokovic into a mistake, with Nadal breaking straight back. Another two breaks followed with yet more brilliant rallies and both players giving everything. Djokovic looked tired the longer it went on and Nadal seemed to have raised his game because of this but this in turn made Djokovic dig even deeper. Nadal had break point to make it 3-5 when the magic moment of the game occurred, a 31 shot epic rally in which there was at least 10 shots that would have been winners in any other game but the returning from both players showed their never say die attitude.
Djokovic hit the eventual winner with a backhand down the line, holding his serve to take it to 4-4. Both players held serve again following some more brilliant shots before Djokovic broke Nadal again, serving for the match. Either the pressure got to him or he was tiring following the lengthy first few sets and he allowed Nadal to take it to a tie breaker. Nadal has a much better record in tie breaks and the fact that he’d just prolonged the match spared him on to a 7-3 win in the tie break.
After the first three sets taking over 3 and a half hours it was clear it was taking it’s toll on the Serbian. During the change over Djokovic got the trainer on for treatment to his back and it looked like Nadal would be back in the ascendancy and take it to 5 sets. Djokovic fought hard to hold his first game then took a medical timeout for his back again which clearly worked for him. Having already had his second wind he then must have been onto his third wind when he broke Nadal then held his serve for a 3-0 lead in the fourth set. It was at this point that Nadal knew that he was beaten and while he tried his best not to show it, he could only win one game in the last set. The Spaniard still hit some great shots and made Djokovic work hard for the win but it seemed that whatever Nadal threw at him, he was always going to win his first US Open title.
Can anyone find a proven way to beat Djokovic who has lost only two of his 66 matches in 2011? Nadal, who was bidding to win his 11th Grand Slam title, has now lost all six of his meetings with Djokovic in 2011 but the Spaniard has vowed to come back fighting and if he does and the result is anywhere near as good as this match then we’re in for a treat.