Rafa Nadal - Clearly The Best stores

US Open 2010
By Hiland Doolittle, September 14th, 2010
Rafa Nadal wins Us Open

Rafa Nadal wins Us Open

Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic gave the crowd plenty to cheer and think about in their three hour 43 minute U.S. Open Championship match on Monday. The match featured a two hour rain delay which seemed only fitting for a tournament that began in blazing sun, survived through powerful wind storms and ended in the dark of night.

Rafa Nadal upheld his number one seeding, his number one ranking and top billing as the best player in the game with a very convincing 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 over a game Novak Djokovic.

The match was suspended with Nadal having one set in hand and the players tied at 4-4, 30/30 in the second set. When play resumed, the Serb came out firing and captured the set with a love break in the 12th game. The Serb rejoiced with enthusiasm as Nadal showed a touch of vulnerability for the first time in the Open fortnight.

In the third set, the players exchanged early breaks before Rafa sealed the set with a late break, his fourth of the match. Djokovic remained competitive, but he was often in awe of the focused Spaniard.

Sensing victory was at hand, Nadal held nothing back. Using his dazzling foot speed, his newfound power serve (135 mph) and an array of baseline shots with differing spins and pace, Rafa had Djokovic working laterally for the entire third set. When Nadal captured two early breaks the set and match were as good as over.

In defeat, Djokovic paid tribute to Nadal and his talent. “He’s a very complete player. For me to win against him tonight, I had to be on the top of my game,” said Djokovic. In truth, Djokovic exceeded the expectations of most fans when he won a terrific five set semifinal match against second seeded Roger Federer.

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

Djokovic brought that same winning mindset to the finals. In the opening set, there were several 20-25 shot rallies where the players strove to assert their dominance by blasting powerful baseline forehands and backhands at each other. Novak held his own in these rallies, no easy feat against the world’s greatest defensive player.

Djokovic may have had a flawed strategy. He took the net 45 times, losing 17 points and often being caught flat footed by Nadal’s angular groundstrokes. On the other hand, Nadal won 16 of his 20 net approaches.

Surprisingly the match only featured 13 aces, 8 of which belonged to Rafael Nadal, who double faulted just twice. Nadal won 55 of his 75 first serves while the Serb won 61 of 95 successful first serves.

For the 24-tear old Spaniard, winning his first U.S. Open completed one more segment of his career dream. The win was Nadal’s ninth in 26 Grand Slam appearances and allowed him to achieve a career Grand Slam four years earlier than Federer, who accomplished the feat at age 28 with his 2009 win at Roland Garros.

Nadal’s win will certainly spark conversation about the greatness of both he and the Swiss. However, what is clear is that the men’s tour has evolved to the point where there are distinct levels of contenders in the two week majors.

Nadal, who failed to win a tournament for eleven months while he was recovering from tendonitis of the knees, Federer and Djokovic compose a triumvirate of top quality competitors that are a notch above the second tier. Andy Murray, Robin Soderling and Czech Tomas Berdych compose the second tier and they are followed by a larger group including Roddick, Davydenko, Marin Cilic and others.

The unknown factor is 2009 U.S. Open Champion Juan Martin Del Potro, whose return to the tour could add balance as well as more star power. Del Potro may be the only player on the tour with the arsenal of weapons to slow Nadal’s apparent charge at Federer’s record of 16 Grand Slam titles.

Until the Argentinean returns, the 2010 U.S. Open provides a good look at the competition on the tour, where Rafa Nadal reigns supreme. The Spaniard may well break Pete Sampras’ record for 286 weeks at the top of the rankings. In the meantime the 2010 U.S. Open Champion most definitely belongs in the conversation about the greatest player of all time.


No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.