(1)Novak Djokovic d. (2)Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-1 [4:10 h]
It was a rematch of the last year’s final, a clash of tennis titans: a 10-time Grand Slam champion (and the title defender in New York) vs. a 3-time Grand Slam champion and contender to join a narrow elite of the biggest champions in the Open era. Definitely the two best players of this season, fighting in their own league, with a prospect of creating the most impressive “head to head” in the modern history of tennis! Expectations were high and the final fulfilled them, it was probably one of the most exciting 4-setters in major finals in the Open era!
The scoreline of the first two sets doesn’t say the whole story: Nadal in both sets led *2:0 (3rd game of the 2nd set he lost after 16 minutes, squandering 3 game points) and the quality of baseline rallies was astonishing. Nadal was playing really well, but D’Joke seemed to have all the answers. I saw their last year’s final also yesterday to compare what has been changed within the last 12 months; the crucial difference is connected to their comfort zones during majority of rallies. Last year, it was Djokovic who was running 2-3 meters behind the baseline whilst Nadal on the line, this year it’s been changed, Nadal is forced to work harder than ever competing with the Serb, he must cover bigger areas on the court, but what an amazing fighter that “Spanish bull” is… He came back three times from a break down in the 3rd set, the second half of that set was exceptional. Djokovic began to have some problems with fast moving, but escaped from a *4:5 (15-30) deficit, and two games later was serving for the title. At ’15 all’ Nadal won arguably the most amazing point of the final with a backhand down the line winner. Nole got the next point quickly, but his extreme defense in the third point of the game took its toll – Nadal notched 9 out of the next 12 points and the 3rd set tie-break (another amazing rally won by him with a backhand DTL winner at *5:3). Before the 4th set Djokovic needed a treatment to the lower part of his back, visible problems of the final stages of the previous set increased, and Nadal’s fans could believe in his 5-set triumph. Although the Spaniard won two entertaining points at the net in the 1st game of the 4th set, Djokovic prevailed after two ‘deuces” and physical problems caught Nadal too. The last six games of the tournament were completely different than the rest of the match. There weren’t long rallies, the much more cleaner hitter Djokovic began producing winners from both sides, and Nadal couldn’t response. At *5:1 (30 all) Djokovic obtained the last two points with winners directly after Nadal’s returns and fell on his back to celebrate the fourth major title. It’s a milestone for him – he becomes just the sixth player in the Open era to win three majors within a season # Three less important things, but statistically interesting – before Djokovic, only four players won the US Open being one point away from defeat ##; Nadal is beaten for the first time in a more than 4-hour match (won all nine previous marathons!) and he has lost six times to Djokovic this year without a single revenge, in the Open era there had been only two cases with a 6-0 H2H within a year before (J.McEnroe vs. Connors in 1984 & Federer vs. Hewitt in 2004).
Upon being announced as the 24th different US Open champion, Djokovic asked about beating Fed & Rafa in back-to-back major matches, said, “It really sounds unreal; it’s an incredible feeling. I had an amazing year and it keeps going. Every time I play Rafa it’s a big challenge. I want to congratulate him on a great tournament again. I wish that we will have many more tough matches in the upcoming years. It’s an absolute pleasure to be a part of the very few players that have won this trophy throughout history.” The defeated Nadal admitted: “Obviously I’m disappointed. This guy is doing unbelievable things, so I just want to congratulate Novak. What he did this year is probably impossible to repeat. I tried my best in every moment”. I wonder whether they’re able to recover after the epic final in the next few days, they’re supposed to play on Friday in Europe in the Davis Cup semifinals (Serbia vs. Argentina & Spain vs. France) Djokovic played longer than 3-hour matches also in the quarter- and semi-finals! He’s at the new peak of his tennis life at the moment, but never before had to work so hard to win a tennis tournament (it’s his 28th title)! I guess his body needs now two weeks of relaxation, not three days… Stats of the final
(9)J.Melzer/P.Petzschner d. (6)M.Fyrstenberg/M.Matkowski 6-2, 6-2
# Players to win three majors within a season:
1969: Rod Laver (Grand Slam) 1974: Jimmy Connors (Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open) 1988: Mats Wilander (Australian Open, Roland Garros, US Open) 2004, 06-07:Roger Federer (Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open) 2010:Rafael Nadal (Roland Garros, Wimbledon, US Open) 2011:Novak Djokovic (Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open)
# US Open champions saving match point(s):
1975: Manuel Orantes, saved 5 m.p. against Guillermo Vilas (semifinal) 1989: Boris Becker, saved 2 m.p. against Derrick Rostagno (second round) 1996: Pete Sampras, saved 1 m.p. against Alex Corretja (quarterfinal) 2003:Andy Roddick, saved 1 m.p. against David Nalbandian (semifinal) 2011:Novak Djokovic, saved 2 m.p. against Roger Federer (semifinal)