US Open: Rafael Nadal win over Novak Djokovic seals career Grand Slam
Rafael Nadal claimed a thrilling four-set victory over Novak Djokovic to secure his first US Open title and complete the career Grand Slam.
The world number one had never won the title at Flushing Meadows but tonight he claimed a 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2 victory in a superb match full of stunning tennis from both players.
The match, which was interrupted by rain for an hour and 50 minutes after being delayed since yesterday, was mesmerising with both men combining finesse and fearsome power as well as unrelenting athleticism around the court.
Nadal, though, was just too good in every department although Djokovic pushed the 24-year-old all the way in a match lasting three hours 22 minutes.
Nadal is now just one of seven men to have won the career Grand Slam.
He said: "(Winning the US Open) is more than I dreamt, just to arrive to the final was amazing and to have the trophy in my hands in a few seconds with my heart beating is going to be unbelievable."
Of his opponent, Nadal added: "First thing, I would like to congratulate Novak and all his team for a great tournament, you're a great player and you're going to win this trophy very soon, I'm sure of that.
"I want to congratulate you for a great attitude after losing a Grand Slam final, that's a great example for the kids."
In turn Djokovic said: "It's a great honour to be here.
"I would like first to congratulate Rafa and his team for an amazing tournament.
"Right now he is the best player in the world and he absolutely deserves this title, well done."
The world number one had looked set for an easy night when he broke Djokovic in the first game of the match, after which the Serb looked to be having problems with an injury to his left leg.
But Djokovic withstood Nadal's early assault and fought back to break and level the match at 2-2.
Nadal converted his sixth break point opportunity to secure his second break and with his serve beginning to fire he refused to give his opponent another look-in as he served out comfortably for the lead.
No sooner had Nadal got the first set in the bag then some unfamiliar frailties began to set in, and it was no surprise when Djokovic seized on a pair of errors to break for a 3-1 lead before holding.
But serving at 4-2 it was Djokovic who faltered, a netted volley giving Nadal his first of three break-back points, the Spaniard taking his third chance with a big backhand winner down the line.
Recovering some of his first set form, Nadal won three games in succession to level at 4-4 as heavy clouds began to gather overhead.
When the rain did come at 30-30 on the Djokovic serve it will have come as a relief to the Serb.
After a delay of an hour and 50 minutes the players reappeared and started where they had left off with some stunning tennis and it was Djokovic who took the set after breaking Nadal at 6-5.
Both players were attacking the ball with fearsome force and Nadal was clearly on a roll, holding to love for 3-1.
The errors started mounting for Djokovic and Nadal's fearsome forehand, sliced backhand and ability to cover every inch of the court guided him to the set.
The match was already three hours old but there was no let-up at the start of the fourth set.
The Spaniard had three break points for 4-1 and when Djokovic netted it appeared to be all but over.
Nadal went 5-1 up and while Djokovic held, it was merely delaying the inevitable and when the latter went wide it wrapped up a stunning victory for the Spaniard who fell to the floor.
RAFAEL NADAL FACTFILE
1986: Born June 3, Mallorca, Spain.
2001: Turns professional.
2002 Wins first match on the ATP circuit in Mallorca, becoming the ninth player in the Open era to win an ATP match before his 16th birthday.
2003: Ranked in the top 50 for the first time.
2004, Wins first ATP title, in Sopot, Poland.
December - Beats Andy Roddick in four sets to help Spain beat the United States in Davis Cup final.
2005, April - After winning titles in Salvador and Acapulco, lands his first Masters Series event in Monte Carlo, defeating Guillermo Coria.
June - Becomes first man since Mats Wilander in 1982 to win the French Open title on debut with a four-set win over Argentinian Mariano Puerta.
2006, March - Beats world number one Roger Federer to win the ATP event in Dubai, ending Federer's run of 56 consecutive hardcourt wins.
April - Beats Federer again to win the Monte Carlo Masters.
May - Beats Federer in a five-set battle to win the Rome Masters.
June - Beats Swede Robin Soderling in first round at French Open for his 54th consecutive clay-court win, setting a professional era record in the men's game. Defends title and 59-game unbeaten streak against Federer.
2006: July - Loses Wimbledon final in four sets to Federer.
2007: April - Beats Federer again to win third straight Monte Carlo Masters title.
May 7 - Wins 76th straight match on clay to set a new record for consecutive victories on any single surface.
May 20 - Winning streak on clay ends at 81 matches with defeat in the final of the Hamburg Masters to Federer.
June 10 - Wins third straight French Open, beating Federer in the final for the second successive year.
July 8 - Loses Wimbledon final to Federer after five-set epic.
2008: January 24 - Reaches Australian Open semi-finals for first time but is beaten by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
June 8 - Thrashes Federer 6-1 6-3 6-0 to win his fourth successive French Open title, equalling the feat of Bjorn Borg. Becomes only the fifth player to win a grand slam without dropping a set.
June 15 - Becomes first Spanish male to win a grass-court title since 1972 after winning the Artois Championship. He also becomes the first player to win at Roland Garros and Queen's in the same year since Ilie Nastase in 1973.
July 6 - Claims his first Wimbledon title with a 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5/7) 6-7 (8/10) 9-7 victory over top seed Federer, becoming the first man since Borg in 1980 to hold the Wimbledon and French Open titles simultaneously.
August 17 - Wins Olympic gold in Beijing with straight-sets defeat of Fernando Gonzalez.
September 9 - Loses in the semi-finals of the US Open to Andy Murray.
September 21 - Wins both singles rubbers in Spain's Davis Cup semi-final defeat of the USA but misses the final against Argentina with a knee injury.
2009: February 1 - Wins Australian Open title after epic five-set victory over Federer in Melbourne.
April - Begins clay-court season by winning fifth straight Monte Carlo Masters title and then achieves the same feat in the ATP 500 event in Barcelona.
May 31 - Loses his first match at the French Open, losing to Soderling in the fourth round.
June 19 - Pulls out of Wimbledon due to knee problem.
September 13 - Thrashed 6-2 6-2 6-2 by Juan Martin del Potro in US Open semi-final.
December 4-6 - Helps Spain win Davis Cup, beating Czech Republic 5-0.
2010: January 25 - Retires in Australian Open quarter-final when trailing Murray by two sets and 3-0, due to knee injury.
June 6 - After winning titles on clay in Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid, wins French Open again, beating Soderling 6-4 6-2 6-4 in the final.
July 4 - Follows up a semi-final win over Murray by beating Tomas Berdych 6-3 7-5 6-4 in the Wimbledon final.
September 14 - Becomes only the seventh man to complete the Career Grand Slam with a 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2 victory over Novak Djokovic in the final of the US Open at Flushing Meadows.