Rafael Nadal wins US Open to seal career Grand Slam
Nadal has won three of the four Grand Slam titles this year
By Piers Newbery
Rafael Nadal joined the ranks of the all-time greats of tennis as he beat Novak Djokovic to win the US Open and complete his set of Grand Slam titles.
The Spaniard, 24, won a rain-interrupted final 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2 at Flushing Meadows in New York.
Nadal's first US Open victory takes him to nine Grand Slam titles.
And he becomes only the seventh man in history to complete the set of majors - Wimbledon, the French, Australian and US Opens.
Nadal joins Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver, Don Budge and Fred Perry in having swept the board, and also becomes the first man since Laver in 1969 to win the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open in the same year.
Nadal is the best - Djokovic
"That's more than I dreamt," Nadal said at the trophy presentation. "It's just amazing to be here in this final, just to arrive in this final. To have this trophy here in a few seconds, with my hands, is going to be unbelievable."
Neither the New York rain, which had seen the final postponed on Sunday and then interrupted for nearly two hours on Monday, nor Djokovic could halt the Spaniard's relentless march to the one title that still eluded him.
There was a case to be made for Djokovic going into the final, not least because he had defeated five-time champion Roger Federer in a dramatic semi-final and had a 7-3 record against Nadal on hard courts, but the world number one is a different animal in major finals.
Monday's encounter began in pulsating fashion, with the first five games taking over half an hour as both men pounded away from the baseline.
Djokovic was the slower out of the blocks and looked exhausted after the lengthy first point of the match, hinting at an ankle problem after dropping serve straight away.
MEN'S CAREER GRAND SLAMS
Fred Perry (GB) 1933-1935
Don Budge (US) 1937-1938
Rod Laver (Aus) 1960-1962
Roy Emerson (Aus) 1961-1964
Andre Agassi (US) 1992-1999
Roger Federer (Swiss) 2003-2009
Rafael Nadal (Spain) 2005-2010
Some uncharacteristic errors from Nadal allowed Djokovic to level in game four, but the Spaniard regained the break immediately in an epic fifth game that saw five break points slip by before he cracked a huge forehand winner on the sixth.
Nadal regained the dominance on serve he had enjoyed for most of the tournament as he saw out the set until he played a poor game at 2-1 down in the second, a double fault and a backhand error giving Djokovic the break to love.
Djokovic was starting to dictate with his forehand as he had against Federer and he consolidated the break to move 4-1 clear, only to miss a game point on his next serve and allow Nadal back into it with a heavy backhand on his third break point.
Suddenly, the momentum was with the man from Majorca and he looked ready to press home that advantage at 4-4, 30-30, only for the widely predicted rain to start falling.
Federer's record better than mine - Nadal
After a delay of one hour and 50 minutes, the players returned and immediately resumed at, if anything, an even higher level of intensity, with Djokovic in particular firing on all cylinders.
The Serb survived from 30-30 on the resumption and held the edge as a tie-break loomed, levelling the match with a fizzing return at Nadal's feet in game 12.
Djokovic could not maintain that spectacular level, however, and Nadal came roaring back at the start of the crucial third set, with a quite brilliant cross-court backhand helping him to break for 2-1.
As his opponent began, understandably, to look weary, Nadal created opportunity after opportunity to increase his lead, but when a wayward backhand flew long in game eight he had missed 17 of 21 break points.
It left him needing to serve out the set and Djokovic made what would be his final push as he attempted to recover the break, but Nadal held his nerve like a champion at 5-4, 30-30, with an ace and a service winner.
That all but broke his opponent's resistance and, although there were more flashing forehand winners to come from the Serb, Nadal broke again to lead 2-1 in the fourth and got the double-break when a tired Djokovic was broken to love two games later.
After three hours and 43 minutes, Nadal finally stood at championship point, and his place in history was secured when Djokovic sent a forehand long, prompting the world number one to fall to his knees in celebration while his family and friends leapt to their feet in the stands.
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