Rafael Nadal cemented his place in history when he claimed a thrilling four-set victory over Novak Djokovic to secure his first US Open title and complete the career Grand Slam.
The world number one had never won the title at Flushing Meadows but last night he claimed a 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2 victory in a superb match full of stunning tennis from both players.
The match, which was interrupted by rain for an hour and 50 minutes after being delayed since yesterday, was mesmerising with both men combining finesse and fearsome power as well as unrelenting athleticism around the court.
Nadal, though, was just too good in every department although Djokovic pushed the 24-year-old all the way in a match lasting three hours 22 minutes.
Nadal is now just one of seven men to have won the career Grand Slam.
He said: “(Winning the US Open) is more than I dreamt, just to arrive to the final was amazing and to have the trophy in my hands in a few seconds with my heart beating is going to be unbelievable.”
Of his opponent, Nadal added: “First thing, I would like to congratulate Novak and all his team for a great tournament, you’re a great player and you’re going to win this trophy very soon, I’m sure of that.
“I want to congratulate you for a great attitude after losing a Grand Slam final, that’s a great example for the kids.”
In turn Djokovic said: “It’s a great honour to be here.
“I would like first to congratulate Rafa and his team for an amazing tournament.
“Right now he is the best player in the world and he absolutely deserves this title, well done.”
The world number one had looked set for an easy night when he broke Djokovic in the first game of the match, after which the Serb looked to be having problems with an injury to his left leg.
But Djokovic withstood Nadal’s early assault and fought back to break and level the match at 2-2.
Nadal converted his sixth break point opportunity to secure his second break and with his serve beginning to fire he refused to give his opponent another look-in as he served out comfortably for the lead.
No sooner had Nadal got the first set in the bag then some unfamiliar frailties began to set in, and it was no surprise when Djokovic seized on a pair of errors to break for a 3-1 lead before holding.
But serving at 4-2 it was Djokovic who faltered, a netted volley giving Nadal his first of three break-back points, the Spaniard taking his third chance with a big backhand winner down the line.
Recovering some of his first set form, Nadal won three games in succession to level at 4-4 as heavy clouds began to gather overhead.
When the rain did come at 30-30 on the Djokovic serve it will have come as a relief to the Serb.
After a delay of an hour and 50 minutes the players reappeared and started where they had left off with some stunning tennis and it was Djokovic who took the set after breaking Nadal at 6-5.
Both players were attacking the ball with fearsome force and Nadal was clearly on a roll, holding to love for 3-1.
The errors started mounting for Djokovic and Nadal’s fearsome forehand, sliced backhand and ability to cover every inch of the court guided him to the set.
The match was already three hours old but there was no let-up at the start of the fourth set.
The Spaniard had three break points for 4-1 and when Djokovic netted it appeared to be all but over.
Nadal went 5-1 up and while Djokovic held, it was merely delaying the inevitable and when the latter went wide it wrapped up a stunning victory for the Spaniard who fell to the floor.