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Nadal Completes Career Grand Slam With US Open Title

New York, U.S.A.

Rafael Nadal © Getty ImagesRafael Nadal celebrates after completing his career Grand Slam.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal became the seventh man to complete the career Grand Slam, and the youngest to accomplish the feat in the Open Era at 24 years of age, as he defeated World No. 2 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 on Monday to win his first US Open title.

Nadal, who achieved the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double this past summer, continued his stellar run of form at the majors as he became the first player to win three straight Grand Slam tournaments in the same season since Rod Laver won all four in 1969.

“I’m still 24. For me, it's a dream to have the career Grand Slam, but this is more a dream to have the US Open,” he said. “[It’s an] unbelievable feeling because I worked a lot all my life, in all difficult moments to be here, but I never imagined to have the four Grand Slams.”

The Manacor native, the third Spaniard to win the US Open (Manuel Orantes - 1975, Manuel Santana - 1965), collected his ninth Grand Slam crown, adding to his five on clay at Roland Garros (2005-08, 2010), two on grass at Wimbledon (2008, 2010), and one on hard court at the Australian Open (2009). He is the second player to win Grand Slam titles on three different surfaces at least twice, behind Mats Wilander.

“He has the capabilities already now to become the best player ever,” Djokovic said. “I think he's playing the best tennis that I ever seen him play on hard courts. He has improved his serve drastically. The speed, the accuracy, and of course his baseline is as good as ever. So he's a very complete player.”

After semi-final exits the past two years at Flushing Meadows, Nadal had made his way confidently through to the championship match – dropping serve just twice in 91 service games – and was looking to become the first player since Neale Fraser in 1960 to win the US Open title without losing a set.

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Though Nadal’s date with destiny was delayed after rain pushed the men’s final to Monday for a third straight year, Nadal made a confident start to the championship match as he broke Djokovic. He dropped serve for just the third time during the US Open fortnight as the Serbian drew level at 2-2, but regained the lead as he converted on his sixth break point opportunity of the next game.

Nadal, who has a 106-1 win-loss record in Grand Slam play after winning the first set, played a loose service game early in the second set – broken at love to give Djokovic the 3-1 lead. The Serbian, who won a string of 11 points, looked poised to become the first player to force a set off of Nadal during the 2010 US Open but faltered as Nadal got back on serve in the seventh game.

The pair were locked at 4-4, 30/30, when rain suspended play shortly after 6pm. The match resumed at 7:59pm after a one-hour, 57-minute rain delay, and saw Djokovic come out the stronger of the two players. He broke the Spaniard for a third time to force a set off of Nadal for the first time during the 2010 US Open.

Djokovic was unable to maintain the momentum, however, with Nadal continually putting pressure on his serve. The top seed created 16 break point chances through the final two sets and converted on three of them (6 for 26 during the match). He claimed the victory in three hours and 43 minutes as his opponent’s return sailed wide on championship point.

Another historic feat occurred after rain interrupted a Monday men’s final 31 years ago. After a one-hour, 35-minute delay, with helicopters brought in to help dry the courts, Rod Laver donned spikes on the grass courts and clinched a four-set win over fellow Aussie Tony Roche – completing his calendar year Grand Slam.

Of the previous six to win all four majors, Laver was the only other left-hander to win all four and also the only other player to complete his set by winning the US Open.

Nadal has already secured his place in the elite eight-man field at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which will return to The O2 in London from 21-28 November, and has set his sights on winning the year-end championships.

“My goal remains for me that the [Barclays ATP World Tour Finals] is probably the last big tournament that I didn't win,” he said. “That's true it’s the most difficult title for me to win because we play it indoors, and when indoor, indoor very quick surface, so gonna be always very difficult if we don't change that. But at the same time is a challenge for me to keep improving to have the chance to play well there and to have the chance to win, so that's what I’m gonna try this year.

“For me right now the next goal is try to finish the season much better than what I did in other years. The last part of the season always was difficult for me. Well, today it started to be less difficult, that's true. But I want to finish the season if it's possible with a good feeling.”

Djokovic had earned his place in the final by saving two match points to defeat Roger Federer in Saturday’s semi-final, reclaiming the No. 2 spot in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings with the victory.

He said: “Maybe emotionally I was a little bit drained after the semifinal match, but I recovered. I had two days, and I was motivated to win this match, and this is one of the matches where the opponent plays better than you, and you just have to congratulate him and tell him, ‘You're better.’ That's it. I don't think I played a bad match overall. It was very good performance from my side. But whenever it was important, he was the one who was playing just too good.”

The 23-year-old Serbian, who finished runner-up to Federer in 2007 at the US Open, was attempting to collect his second Grand Slam title after winning the 2008 Australian Open.

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