Rafael Nadal celebrates winning the US Open 2013
Rafael Nadal celebrates winning the US Open 2013Reuters

In what was the final all tennis fans hoped for, world number one rank Novak Djokovic took on world number two Rafael Nadal at the Arthur Ashe stadium in Queens, New York.

With sports fans expecting a tight contest, the match did not disappoint. After four hard-fought sets, Nadal was able to win 6-2 3-6 6-4 6-1, his second grand slam title of the year and 13 overall, only four behind all-time leader Roger Federer.

Nadal has been in sensational form on hard courts this year, not losing a match. Djokovic was unable to halt the Spaniard, who has announced his return to the top of men's singles competition. The Serb's strategy going into the match was to take the game to his opponent, going for winners whenever the opportunity presented itself. As a result, the world number one hit more winners but also racked up more unforced errors, which were to prove decisive. 

Nadal seemed to be the sharper right from the off, with a convincing first set victory. After two regulation holds of serve to begin the match, Nadal gained his first break in the third game. A break ahead, the Spaniard began to take control of the set. Both players held serve in the following two games. In the sixth game, with Nadal up 3-2, the set took a definitive turn. Djokovic hit an incredible drop shot in the game but Nadal chased it down to hit a sensational cross-court winner to close the game. With the momentum with Nadal, Djokovic was broken in the next game. Up 5-2, the world number two closed out the set to take an early lead. Djokovic made 14 unforced errors compared to four from his opponent.

With encouragement from the crowd, Djokovic rallied in the second set, winning the first game comfortably on his serve. In the second game, the Serb took a 15-40 lead, his first break points of the match. Nadal, however, was able to hold out to make it 1-1. The game was a sign of things to come. In the sixth game, with Nadal on serve, Djokovic managed to gain his first break of the match. Up to this point, the Spaniard was winning a majority of the long rallies. At 30-30, Djokovic played a great volley at the net to gain a break point. A 54 shot rally ensued, the point of the match by far, in which Djokovic was somehow able to return a powerful Nadal forehand to win the game. A break up, Djokovic looked a different player. His exuberance was soon dampened by Nadal breaking in the very next game.

With the score at 5-3 Nadal had to hold serve to stay in the set. Djokovic was unwilling to let him settle and was able to push the score to deuce. With the advantage going back and forth, Djokovic managed to gain another break point, where Nadal played an ill-advised drop shot to allow his opponent a break. Djokovic was able to close out the set at 6-3. The momentum had clearly shifted towards the world number one.

The third set saw both players wrestling for control with no clear winner emerging. Djokovic took an early 2-0 lead, breaking his opponent's serve in the first game. With Djokovic holding his serve comfortably and Nadal managing to hold under severe pressure the match was at 3-2 on Djokovic's serve. At this point, both players had each won 76 points, emphasising the evenness of the contest. Djokovic seemed in control of the contest only for the momentum to switch once again. Nadal eked out an advantage in the sixth game and an unforced error by his opponent granted him the break to tie the match.

Both players held serve to take the set to 4-4. The turning point in the set came on the next Nadal service game. Djokovic had raced to a 0-40 lead only for Nadal to claw his way back to deuce. At 30-40, Nadal pulled out his first ace of the match, displaying the kind of mental toughness that wins championships. The Spaniard was able to break once again to win the set 6-4 and take a 2-1 lead going into the fourth set, a bad Djokovic error granting him the set.

Nadal was able to use his advatage to see the game through. He raced to a 2-0 lead in the fourth set, breaking Djokovic's serve with a forehand winner down the line. Djokovic began to show signs of weariness after his tough semifinal against Stanislas Wawrinka, which lasted more than four hours. Nadal comfortably won the fourth set 6-1, picking up his second US Open title in the process, his 13 grand slam title overall.