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Rafael Nadal wins U.S. Open, beating Novak Djokovic for 13th Grand Slam title
“Djokovic was so good in the second set and the third. But Rafael was always there, there, there. And in the end, he won,” Toni Nadal said. “He was so strong in his mind. That was the difference.”
The final momentum shift came with Nadal serving at 4-all in the third set. Djokovic earned three break points, thanks in part to a tremendous lob-volley and another point when Nadal slipped and tumbled to his backside.
But a quick forehand winner by Nadal, a forehand into the net by Djokovic on a 22-stroke point, and a 125 mph ace — Nadal’s only one of the evening, it drew shouts of “Vamos!” from Uncle Toni — helped avoid another break.
“I didn’t do anything I felt (was) wrong in these few points,” Djokovic said. “He didn’t make a mistake.”
In the very next game, Nadal broke Djokovic’s serve and, apparently, his will. When that set ended with Djokovic pushing a forehand long on a 19-shot point, Nadal screamed as he knelt down at the baseline, his racket on the court and his left fist pumping over and over and over.
“A really important set,” Nadal called it later, “and a really special one.”
Djokovic made one last serious stand, holding break points in the fourth set’s first game, but Nadal saved those, then immediately broke to go ahead 2-0.
Once again, Nadal withstood Djokovic’s best and was on his way to another Grand Slam celebration.
“It’s what we do when we play against each other, always pushing each other to the limit,” Djokovic said. “That’s the beauty of our matches and our rivalry, I guess, in the end.”
By Donald Lambro
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