By Ann Liguori
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Rafael Nadal prevailed Monday in a four-set battle against Novak Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, continuing his perfect record on hard courts this season to win his 13th Grand Slam title.
Nadal was unstoppable with his shot-making, his consistency and his will to win. The 27-year-old Spaniard, out last year with a knee injury, came back with a vengeance, winning his eighth French Open title in June and his second US Open title, taking home $3.6 million in prize money Monday night in Flushing.
In the first set, Nadal came out slugging while Djokovic looked sluggish and flat-footed.
In the second set, it was an entirely different Djokovic. The Serb broke after a ‘54’ shot rally to go up 4-2. The crowd went wild as Djokovic put both hands in the air and enjoyed the moment. It was only the second time Nadal had been broken in 89 service games. But in the very next game, Nadal broke back, keeping the pressure on and running down every shot to make it 3-4. But then Djokovic broke again to go up 5-3, chasing down a Nadal drop shot and hitting a backhand crosscourt winner for the break before closing out the second set on his serve.
In the third set, Nadal had a huge break back in the sixth game to tie it up at three. In the ninth game, Nadal serving, down love-40, triple break point, Nadal fought back to hold serve at 5-4 and then break again for the set.
In the fourth, it was all Nadal. Djokovic could not match Nadal’s stamina or will.
Nadal collapsed to the court, kissing it and crying. His desire to win is matched by none.
He has now beaten Djokovic 22 of the 37 times they’ve played in their storied rivalry. And how lucky we are, that there should be many more to come!
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