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Rafa clinches career slam after NY thriller

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Originally published on: 14/09/10 10:03

Rafael Nadal secured his place in history after grabbing a thrilling four-set victory over Novak Djokovic to pick up his first US Open title and complete the career Grand Slam.

The world No.1 – who had never previously been beyond the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows – trumped the Serb 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2 in a superb match littered with flashes of brilliance from both players.

“[Winning the US Open] is more than I dreamt, just to arrive to the final was amazing,” said the Spaniard in typically humble fashion.

And, ever the gentleman, the nine-time Grand Slam champion turned to the defeated Serb and said:

“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 kids.”

As was the final itself, littered with exhausting and exhilarating rallies in equal measure. On occasion, Djokovic pulled off the sublime – crushing deep double-fisted backhands that would be worthy of winners against any other opponent, only to see them fired back with twice the venom.

The very first point of the match highlighted what was in store for Djokovic – and just what it would take to win a point off the 24-year-old Mallorcan.

A pulsating rallied exchange ended with Djokovic lunging to reach a drop shot – and crocking his ankle in a desperate attempt to get the ball back. He did, and won the point, but suffered an immediate break of serve before he could shake off the strain.

Bouts of frustration followed from the Serb – he smashed a racket and pummeled his forehead, desperately trying to gain a foothold in the match. While he lost the first set, he claimed the second, upping the anti-with a break before the near two-hour long rain delay and – after being pegged back by Nadal – secured another soon after the resumption.

Poised at one set apiece, the match began to edge the way of the favourite, who kept the unforced error count to a minimum. He converted only six of 23 break point opportunities, but while Djokovic managed three from four, Nadal chased everything, and found the answers when it mattered.

Djokovic – still with his epic five-set victory over Roger Federer pulsing through his legs – battled up to the last, but couldn’t find an answer to the Mallorcan’s stubborn brilliance.

“Right now, he’s the best player in the world and he absolutely deserves this title,” summed up the world No.2.

And you couldn’t argue with that.

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