After crushing big-hitting Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets, keeping the fans cheering, Rafael Nadal had to play big-hitting Czech Tomas Berdych to finish off a two-and-a-half hour semifinal. Nadal had so much to do that it wasn’t clear as to whether he would play two more matches or pull out of the tournament. It turns out the outcome of the Djokovic match in New York was decided not by Nadal but by a wheelchair-bound Djokovic at the close of the third set. That gave Berdych victory and brought him the title at Flushing Meadows.
Despite losing it in the end, the match had been one of the most highly anticipated events of the men’s tournament. Both Nadal and Djokovic are the favorite to win this year’s tournament, and in a sense, the pair have long been American tennis’s Floyd Mayweather and Money Mayweather, with proclamations of their invincibility and reserved reverence. It’s clear that something has changed, though, for these two players. For two that have dominated the tour for so long, this has been a special U.S. Open season, with superb, two-and-a-half hour matches against some of the game’s top players. (Though it should be said that Rafa’s grand slam record in New York is still dominant, with an overall record of 12 wins and one loss.) He dominated Murray before the Scot’s injury forced him to retire, and then he beat Grigor Dimitrov, the player he had defeated that had been in his semifinals-final (!) last year, when the Bulgarian had beaten him. He then defeated Federer, the man who had beaten him at the Swiss Indoors and at the Australian Open in the last months of last year, by setting a new career record of 30 victories and zero losses, despite his match point woe.
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