RETURN OF THE CHAMPION

Sep 11, 2013 -- 8:23pm

 

 

Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic Monday in the U.S. Open mens final. It was another epic battle between the 2 best players on the planet, featuring a dizzying display of power, speed, athleticism and toughness. In victory Nadal captures his 13thmajor title. He now sits 3rdall time behind only Pete Sampras and Roger Federer. Rafa remains undefeated this year on hard courts and caps off one of the greatest months in his career, completing the sweep of all 3 ATP hard court events in Montreal, Cincinnati and Flushing Meadows. He also effectively ended Novak’s run as the number one player in the world. By turning the tables on Djokovic { he has beaten him 6 of the last 7 times} he has re-established himself as the best player in the world, this after missing 7 months due to his knee injury.

How has Nadal accomplished this? He has tweaked his game. Being widely regarded as the greatest clay court player ever, might be enough for most, but not Rafa. He realized, to his credit, that his normally brilliant defensive game was not enough on a hard court vs. the talented Djokovic. Rather than stubbornly refusing to accept this, Rafa adapted. He’s become more aggressive on hard courts, taking bigger cuts on his return of serve, flattening out some of his strokes, standing closer to the baseline and taking the ball earlier.

Now at age 27 having won his 13thmajor, the question is, can Nadal catch Federer’s all time record of 17 slams? It occurs to me that Tiger Woods trails Jack Nicklaus by the same amount of 4 majors. Who has the better chance Tiger or Rafa?

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