Djokovic caps amazing year with third Slam victory

 

Flushing Meadows

Novak Djokovic's astonishing season goes on. The 24-year-old Serb won his third Grand Slam tournament of the year, his 10th title and his 64th match out of 66 to claim the US Open for the first time here last night. Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 6-7, 6-1 to record his sixth successive victory over the Spaniard in finals this year and earn revenge for his defeat to the same opponent in the final 12 months ago.

The world's two best players provided a fitting finale to the Grand Slam season in the tournament's fourth successive Monday final. Much of the tennis was sensational, with both men pushing each other to the limit with the relentless accuracy and weight of their ground strokes and their stunning speed around the court. There were moments of exquisite skill, too, with Djokovic in particular playing some delightful drop-shot winners.

At times the crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium gasped in disbelief at the athleticism of the two men as they retrieved balls from seemingly impossible positions. The length of the rallies was more befitting of a clay-court match than one played on the quickest surface on the Grand Slam circuit. Both men were broken on a regular basis, but Djokovic in particular seemed to read Nadal's serve with ease, repeatedly driving his returns to within inches of the Spaniard's baseline.

Djokovic is the sixth man in the Open era to win three Grand Slam titles in the same season. Although Don Budge (in 1938) and Rod Laver (in 1962 and 1969) both went one better, his year is stacking up well with the best in history given that he is competing in an era which until now had been dominated by two of the greatest players of all time in Nadal and Roger Federer. His only defeats since November have been against Federer in the semi-finals of the French Open – which was won by Nadal – and against Andy Murray in the Cincinnati Masters final, when he retired hurt.

On a warm afternoon with a variable breeze, the atmosphere inside the cavernous main show court was intense from the start. The only regret was that there were several occasions when the players were distracted by shouting from spectators in the middle of points.

Nadal is a crowd favourite wherever he plays, but Djokovic is also hugely popular here. He further endeared himself by entering the court wearing a New York fireman's cap in recognition of the tenth anniversary on Sunday of the 11 September terrorist attacks on the city.

Given the intensity of the match, it was perhaps no surprise that both men were given code violations for taking too long between points. Both like to compose themselves before serving, Djokovic with his dogged ball-bouncing and Nadal with his ritual-like preparations.

There were some extremely long games, but that was almost entirely down to the ability of the two men to keep forcing their opponent to hit the extra ball. After 29 minutes the score stood at just 2-2, Djokovic having dropped serve in the second game only to break back immediately.

The next four games, however, took just 14 minutes as Djokovic quickly took control. With Nadal regularly hitting the ball short, Djokovic was able to step inside the court and keep the Spaniard behind the baseline with his hammer-blow ground strokes. Treating Nadal's serve with contempt, Djokovic broke three times in a row and won six games in succession to take the first set.

Nadal responded well, breaking serve to go 2-0 up in the second set, only for Djokovic to snatch back the initiative again. A wonderful third game, featuring a series of breath-taking rallies, ended after more than 17 minutes with Djokovic converting his sixth break point when Nadal netted a smash.

Two games later Djokovic broke again, Nadal double-faulting on break point. Although the Spaniard responded in kind to level at 4-4, he immediately dropped serve for the sixth time, enabling Djokovic to serve out for a two-sets lead. The final point summed up his apparent invincibility, the Serb winning it with a colossal forehand from out wide after Nadal had apparently taken command with his own huge return of serve.

From 1-1 in the third set there were four successive breaks of serve. Djokovic clung on when trailing 3-4 after a rally that summed up the match. Thirty-one shots were exchanged, with Nadal staying in contention thanks only to some spell-binding defence, before Djokovic cracked a backhand winner down the line. At 5-5 Djokovic broke again but, incredibly, Nadal broke back when the Serb attempted to serve out for the title. The set went to a tie-break, which Nadal won 7-3 after Djokovic netted a forehand.

When Djokovic had treatment for a sore back at the start of the fourth set and took a medical time-out after the first game it seemed that the momentum might have swung decisively against him, but the world No 1 showed the resilience of a true champion to break for a 10th and 11th time and complete an extraordinary victory after more than four hours.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice