Djokovic Wins US Open Title – defeats Nadal in 4 sets
In 2010, Novak Djokovic made his 2nd career appearnce in the US Open final, overcoming a 2-set deficit in his 1st round match, defeating five-time champ Roger Federer in the semifinals in 5 sets and then played a solid final against Rafael Nadal, irrespective of the fact that he lost.
Subsequently he has not developed any significant changes in his game, but victories and past experiences changed his mental strategy for dueling with other top players in the US Open. Djokovic is is hitting shots he wouldn’t have and probably couldn’t have in past years, and with more aggression and self-assurance. He does admit that the one thing he has done differently is altering his diet to a gluten free diet
The result of the past few years of experiences for the Croat has resulted in one of the greatest years (and turning points) in the history of professional tennis, which Djokovic made even greater with his 2011 US Tennis Open victory.
Djokovic was plagued with back problems (even taking a 3 minute medical timeout during the final)- however this didn’t stop him using his exceptional return game, a good defense and speed to play with confidence to overcome the 10-time Grand Slam champion, Spaniard Rafael Nadal, 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-1, to win his first career US Open crown and capture his fourth Grand Slam title in a match featuring spectacular shot-making and many unbelievable rallies.
With the US Open title win, Djokovic left his record for the year at a tremendous 64 victories and 2 losses, and of course 6-0 over the master of clay, Nadal. He also had a significant 43-match win streak stemming from last year’s Davis Cup final until his loss to Federer in this year in the French Open semi-finals.
With the win he also has become just the sixth man in the Open Years to win three Grand Slam titles in the same year, after winning both the Australian Open and Wimbledon 2011 (defeating Nadal in the final) earlier in the tennis season.
“It really seems unreal, ” Djokovic said of his win. “I think most of the strokes are the same that they were in last two, three years. I’m going for it, I’m more aggressive, and I have just a different approach to the semifinals and finals of major events, especially when I’m playing two great champions, Rafa and Roger.
“In the last couple of years that wasn’t the case” he added. “I was always kind of trying to wait for their mistakes or being out there and playing my best tennis and not really having the positive attitude and kind of believing that I can win. ”
After the loss of the Wimbledon final to Djokovic, Nadal had said he needed to play more aggressively and confidently against the Croat to beat him. But in the US Open final, it was Djokovic who once again played more aggressively for most of the match and with most of the self-belief, as he was seemingly in all places around the court, returning shot after shot and reaching extremely deep, which forced Nadal to play from right behind the baseline a lot, and subsequently delivering balls too short in the court for a return, enabling Djokovic to take control of the game.
The match up featured an amazing total of service breaks: Djokovic had 26 break-point opportunities and broke Nadal 11 of those times, which was the most times the Spaniard had been broken in 163 career Grand Slam matches. Nadal also had 14 break-point chances against the Serb, converting 6 of them, yet his inability to take advantage on many of those leads was apparent, as he had trouble serving, specifically in the first two sets, and for the match won just 52 percent of his 1st serves, as opposed to 65 percent for Djokovic, who felt on form from the outset of the match up.
“I felt great. Maybe it is the best match I played in the US Open so far this year,” he said. “I stepped on the court believing I can win, and I was hitting the balls from the baseline really strong and flat. I didn’t give him any comfort, any rhythm. I was kind of trying to keep the control of the match; it was working”.