Rafael Nadal crowned his brilliant year by defeating World No.1 Novak Djokovic to win the US Open title at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday and earn his 13th Grand Slam singles crown.
The Spaniard earned his second major championship this season following his French Open triumph, sealing the 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win when Djokovic dumped a forehand into the net, sending Nadal down onto his back before rolling face down and sobbing in joy.
Nadal’s career total of 13 Grand Slam wins moves him one ahead of Australian Roy Emerson and into third on the all-time list behind Roger Federer (17) and Pete Sampras (14).
Nadal, who won the 2010 US Open in a final against Djokovic and then lost their finals rematch in 2011, improved his hard court record to a spotless 22-0 this year and his overall match record to a sensational 60-3.
“I never thought something like this could happen,” said the 27-year-old, who watched last year’s US Open on television at home during a seven-month absence from the Tour due to a knee injury.
“I feel very lucky about what happened since I came back.”
Luck has accounted for a very small sliver of his remarkable season. Since rejoining the Tour in February, Nadal has reached the finals in 12 of his 13 tournaments, winning 10 of them.
The Spaniard said beating Djokovic made this victory even more meaningful.
“Playing against Novak is a very special feeling,” he said at the trophy ceremony. “Probably no one brings my game to the level that Novak does.”
The match was a Tour-record setting 37th meeting between the two rivals, eclipsing the 36 clashes between John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl. Nadal improved his lead in their series to 22-15.
The left-hander from Mallorca collected prize money of $2.6 million.
Nadal also pocketed an extra $1 million for having topped the standings in the U.S. Open run-up series of events, matching the $3.6 million haul of women’s winner Serena Williams.”He was too good,” said Australian Open champion Djokovic. “He definitely deserved to win this match and this trophy.
“Obviously it’s disappointing to lose a match like this. But it’s an honor and privilege to be fighting for this trophy.”
The duo have staged some of the most memorable matches in recent seasons, with Djokovic winning a six-hour tilt in the 2012 Australian Open final, and Nadal claiming a classic semi-finals win this year at Roland Garros by 9-7 in the fifth