Rafael Nadal is the US Open men's champion.
The 24-year old defeated third seed Novak Djokovic 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 to win his first title at Flushing Meadows and complete the Career Slam, only the seventh man in history to have achieved the feat and the youngest to do so in the Open Era. He also became the first man to win three consecutive major titles in a single year since Rod Laver won all four in 1969 to complete the Calendar Slam. Just amaze.
That's some pretty heavy history, and Rafa played like it mattered from the outset of this tourney. He gave himself the best chance to win here coming in healthy and adding a more potent serve to go along with his trademark forehand and athletic defense. Oh, and his net play was kinda good, too.
Moreover, the Spanish lefty's intensity and focus, which is usually very strong, was laser sharp from the first point of the tourney. He was stingy with leads and didn't give up a set until Nole struck back and grabbed the second one today. When Rafa got on top, he wasn't letting go. And, he didn't until he won match point falling onto his back and rolling onto his stomach in celebration.
As I said on Twitter as the match was moving to its obvious, historic conclusion, it's remarkable to think only a few years ago he was labeled as a 'clay-court specialist' and now he holds all four majors - a sure sign of GREATNESS.
But, on this night, history was on Rafa's side. Congrats!
Check out SI.com's slideshow featuring each of his nine major championship runs. And, of course, Rafanatics should make sure to head over to NadalNews for Miri's coverage of her boy's big victory.
Here's video of the trophy ceremony:
Nike Tennis tribute:
And just one more for the road...
UPDATE #1: Here's an interesting quote from his post-match presser. There's always so much talk about his forehand and, during these two weeks, his serve but for Rafa a strong mentality and a willing to adapt are key. Read the full transcript here.
Q. You've achieved so much over these brief years starting maybe with the clay court streak and then winning in so many different circumstances. In the big picture, we sort of debate what are your greatest strengths. What do you think your greatest strengths are as a champion? Is it strokes or focus, willingness to make changes, attitude? What do you think are your two or three greatest strengths?
RAFAEL NADAL: What's my best thing? I think the mentality, attitude on court I think always was good for me. I am positive on court, and I fight all the time. But not the only thing. Positive attitude is not only fight on court. I think I was able to listen all the time to the coach and to have adjustments and to be ready to change things to be better and to improve. So probably that's was the best thing for me.
If we talk about the game, for sure for me I think the best thing that I have is my intensity on court, no? When I am playing well, the intensity always is high. The rhythm is high. Sometimes yes but not always I have easy winners or with one shot winner, but I can have winners after three, four shots having a great rhythm all the time, no? So the focus on court I think was -- that's similar, no, the rhythm and focus. I can, I think, play at the same rhythm and the same level long time. So that's what I think my best thing is.
UPDATE #2: Uncle Toni's reaction to his the historic win...
"Players said Rafa could never win on hardcourt because he played too much topspin, he's too physical. And now I believe there's not much that the players he plays against can argue with."
[Photo(s): Getty Images, Nike]