Flushing Meadows, NY – Rafael Nadal ousted Novak Djokovic in Monday's compelling men's final at the U.S. Open, where the mighty Spaniard is now a two-time champion.
The second-seeded former world No. 1 Nadal defeated the top-ranked Djokovic in four sets, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, at a jam-packed Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The match featured an amazing display of power tennis, ending in 3 hours, 21 minutes.
The 27-year-old Nadal now owns 13 Grand Slam singles titles, with only Roger Federer (17) and Pete Sampras (14) ahead of him on the men's all-time list.
The Spanish great has been nothing short of brilliant since returning to action in February following a seven-month knee-injury layoff. His spectacular 2013 season has seen him win two of the three majors he's performed in and go a flawless 22-0 on his least-favorite surface, hardcourts.
He is 60-3 overall for the year.
"Playing against Novak is always a very special feeling," Nadal said after the huge win.
Djokovic was asked what it's like battling Nadal on the other side of the net.
"Thanks for bringing that question up," Djokovic said while the crowd at Ashe chuckled at his response.
"He (Nadal) deserved to win this match today and that trophy," the Serb added.
No. 2 seeds are now 7-5 versus No. 1 seeds in U.S. Open finals in the Open Era.
This particular final was highlighted by a number of long, dazzling rallies.
Nadal dominated the first set, as he broke Djokovic for a 2-1 lead and broke the Serb again, this time at love, for a commanding 5-2 advantage amid windy conditions at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The mighty Spaniard closed out the stanza on his first set point when Djokovic sailed a forehand long.
The second set belonged to Djokovic, as the Serb won an epic 54-shot rally to close out the sixth game, breaking Nadal for a 4-2 lead when the Spaniard dumped a final shot into the net.
Nadal managed to break right back to pull within 3-4, but Djokovic tallied yet another break in the next game for a 5-3 lead and leveled the match at a set apiece by holding in the ensuing game with a fierce two-handed backhand winner on his first set point of the night.
The astounding tennis continued in the third, as Djokovic thought he found more momentum by breaking Nadal to open the frame. But the Spanish strongman got the break back five games later to level it a 3-all.
In a pivotal ninth game in the third, a turning point came when Djokovic appeared to be closing in on yet another break, leading 40-love, but Nadal fought back to somehow win the game, and then broke his Serbian counterpart in the next game when Djokovic ended the set with a long errant forehand.
The fifth set was then all Nadal, as he broke for a 2-0 lead with a powerful forehand winner and would break again for a commanding 5-1 cushion. He served for the match in the seventh game, which came to a close on his first match point when Djokovic sent one final forehand into the net as Ashe.
Nadal broke Djokovic a whopping seven times, compared to only three breaks for the six-time major champion from Serbia.
Djokovic had 19 more winners on Day 15 of the fortnight (46-27), but also misfired for 33 more unforced errors (53-20).
The reigning U.S. and French Open titlist Nadal is now 13-5 in his career major finals, while the Australian Open champion Djokovic fell to 6-6, including a loss against Andy Murray at Wimbledon in July.
Nadal also beat Djokovic in four sets in the 2010 U.S. Open final, while the Serb topped the Spaniard in four sets in the 2011 finale.
The 26-year-old Djokovic has played in the last four U.S. Open finals, going 1-3.
Nadal and Djokovic have met more times than any other men in the Open Era (37), with Nadal now holding a 22-15 advantage, including 8-3 at the Slams.
They've split six Grand Slam finals meetings.
Nadal claimed $3.6 million, while Djokovic settled for $1.3 million. The Spaniard's prize money includes a $1 million bonus as a result of capturing the U.S. Open Series leading up to the final Grand Slam event of the year.
Djokovic has appeared in 10 of the last 13 Grand Slam finals, and a member of the "Big Four" -- Djokovic, Nadal, Murray and Federer -- have combined to win 34 of the last 35 major titles.
The Serbian slugger dropped to 1-4 in his career U.S. Open finals.
Nadal is now 10-2 in his 2013 finals and owns 60 overall titles on the ATP World Tour.
Nadal and Djokovic have combined to win 12 of the last 15 major titles.