US Open 2010: The Boombastic Ending!

At a young age of 24, Rafael Nadal completed his Golden Slam Career (9 Grand Slam Titles + 1 Olympic Gold Medal) by beating Novak Djokovic in a jam-packed US Open Finals in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Before the hour-long rain delay at 6-4, 4-4 (30-30), Rafa took control of the match winning three consecutive games while trailing 1-4 in the second set.

Patience is a virtue and luckily, Novak Djokovic found his pace and played at his supreme level to seal a win at 7-5. Rafa dominated the third and fourth sets (6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2) and for that, this match instantly became the most competitive men’s finale at a slam this 2010. Every point spoke for itself. The exchanging baseline rallies were regularly deep and un-returnable.

The top seed fired 8 aces: 49 winners and only 31 unforced errors compared to his runner up’s 5 aces, 45 winners and 47 unforced errors. Anyone could also notice there are some moments that Rafa was struggling, especially with his serves, but his incomparable ability to control his nerves have helped him win the big and important points.

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Q. Can you talk a little bit about today’s rain delay, what you did during that time and what you told yourself about the match?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, well, the delay, it wasn’t in the right moment for me, but just go back to the locker room, have a shower, and have all the tapes another time. That’s what I did.

Q. What did you tell yourself about the match at that point?

RAFAEL NADAL: Nothing special, no? I think — I thought before the match gonna be very difficult for me to win this match today, because the style of Novak is very difficult for me, because he play aggressive, he play very inside the court with very complete shots on the baseline, forehand and backhand, and difficult for me.

But I started the match feeling the ball great, and for me what I said to myself is I did another time, so I can do it another time. So just be there, fight every point and try to play with high intensity all the time, so I know if I play with high intensely, put a lot of balls inside and play long. Finally, I think he can be more tired than me, so if the match is long, I think I gonna have a little bit of advantage, and that’s what I thought before the match. But if he starts to play like he did in Paris, is true indoor is different, my level is completely different now than what I did in the Masters 1000 in Paris last year, but when he’s playing at his best, he’s very difficult to stop.

Courtesy of:

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What Happened to Novak Djokovic?

The US Open is Djokovic’s most successful 2010 slam appearance considering he has played two five-set matches (Round 1 against his compatriot Victor Troicki and his unforgettable semifinal-thriller against Roger Federer, where Djokovic saved two match points at 15-40 {4-5} in the deciding set).

He won three matches in straight sets (Round 2 against the Wimbledon Doubles Champion Phillip Petzschner, Round 3 & 4 against America’s Favorites James Blake & Mardy Fish and the Quarterfinals against Frenchman Gael Monfils).

Novak Djokovic became the only person who won a set against Rafa, who has not drop a set in his six consecutive matches and was only broken twice before the “Dream Finale.”

There might be a lot of talks of what-would-have and what-could-have. Many experts also thought the match suspension on Day 14 would turn the tables in favor for Nole. If you ask me and while watching it live on TV, I seem to realize the match was not all about who’s well-rested and who’s not. Both of these guys showed signs of physical exhaustion.

The big difference is, the Serbian allowed his focus to disappear especially in the fifth set and that has resulted to poor placement of the ball during rallies.

The Happy Moments

1) Like Serena Williams in Australian Open and Wimbledon , Kim Clijsters has conquered the US Center Court for two times in a row. In fact, Clijsters has an easier route to finals than in 2009. She demolished Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round before ousting French Open Finalist (Sam Stosur) in three.

During the first 31 minutes of the semifinals, Venus Williams successfully devoured the defending champion. Venus’ serves and winners were blasting and Clijsters has no answers.

Like what happened in the quarterfinals with French Open Champion (Francesca Schiavone), Venus’ inconsistencies left her in frustration in the next two sets. Venus got lucky and won her match against Schiavone. Sorry to say, it was totally a different story in the semifinals.

The Queen of Wimbledon had her chances to end the match during the tiebreaker in the second set but her double-faults hurt her overall game. Clijsters only took advantage of the situation and handled it the way it should be.

At 4-4 in the third, Venus could not fix her serves and she continued to donate points. Clijsters, despite of all the momentum swings, has even strike a winner to seal a spot in the finals (4-6, 7-6, 6-4).

If there’s any dark horses in the women’s main draw, there’s actually two of them but this label still belongs to Vera Zvonareva. The Russian outlasted Kaia Kanepi and Caroline Wozniacki, who were top contenders for the title. Yet, as the nerves envelop Zvonareva, she only rallied to win three games against Kim Clijsters in the finals.

2) Speaking of dark horses, Mikhail Youzhny has proven he’s also worth the title by reaching his second semifinal since 2006. Blessed by powerful one-handed backhand and explosive returns, Youzhny came on top against a web of popular names: John Isner, Tommy Robredo and Stanislas Wawrinka.

The Nadal-Youzhny match did not disappoint the expectations of many people as the veteran has produced three aces and has broken Rafa’s serve in the third set to level the play at 4-4.

Having a hard time forgetting the elation, Youzhny has somehow forgotten he’s still playing a hungry beast who remained to be steady and confident in every point. Youzhny allowed the top seed to win two consecutive games.

3) Ana Ivanovic has showed the tennis world that she’s returning to her old winning form by destroying 2010 AEGON International Champion (Makarova) during her opener at the Grandstand.

Unseeded but still the big favorite, Ana has learned to forget the past and thrash Zheng Jie the next round. Ivanovic dominated but still got a bit nervous and overexcited during the first set at 4-1 lead.

She has permitted Zheng to win two consecutive games in a row. Thanks to her consistency and she has angled her shots at the right corners of the court. The French Open 2008 Champion won the match in a landslide (6-3, 6-0).

Ana scored 7-5, 6-0 against Virginie Razzano of France only committing 13 unforced errors throughout the match. Although Ana failed to reach quarterfinals and overpowered by the eventual champion, the US Open 2010 was, all in all, a good week for Ana even the main draw was not as intense as the draw she had in Rome, where she defeated Elena Dementieva for the first time in her tennis career.

4) Another young American was given a difficult test and he passed. His name is Ryan Harrison.

Winning three consecutive matches during the qualifying, Harrison stunned the 2010 Indian Wells Champion (Ivan Ljubicic) in his first Grand Slam Opener.

Having the natural gift and the tenacity to be the America’s Next Top Player, he won 146 total points against Ljubicic’s 120 – having produced 13 aces: 44 winners: won 59% of net approaches and a break point percentage of 27%.

Watching his game, Harrison’s biggest weapons were his serve and movement. At 18, he could move around the court so well but he could not always support it with his forehand and backhand groundstrokes that could be out of his control. Like other tennis players on tour, Harrison has to learn how to control his emotions effectively and be more patient when bad things start to pile up.

5) The Fourth Round: Caroline Wozniacki vs Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-4

Caroline Wozniacki as the top seed of a slam for the very first time did satisfy what many people, myself included, were expecting her to perform. Watching this match, anyone could see the transformation in Wozniacki’s style of playing. Instead of staying behind the baseline to chase balls, Wozniacki has used her speed to move near the volley line to finish a point. Her groundstrokes also improved and most of them are deep.

Before the match started, I wanted the Russian Superstar to dictate how this match should be played. Maria Sharapova was playing “just that good” against Caroline yet, I did not expect her to be broken immediately multiple times due to unforced errors (36) and double faults (9).

Photos Courtesy of: Yahoo! Sports

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