Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Nadal Is Back on Top

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Nadal Is Back on Top

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - Rafael Nadal dropped to the court, put his hands over his head and began to weep.

A year ago, Nadal watched the U.S. Open from home. A left knee injury caused him to miss the tournament. One of the greatest careers in the history of men's tennis was in jeopardy.

On Monday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium, there were no more doubts. Nadal is back to his old form. In fact, he might even be better.

Nadal won the U.S. Open, pulling away for a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over Novak Djokovic. It was a memorable match, one that had the capacity crowd at Ashe standing and cheering throughout the night.

But after three hours and 21 minutes, it was Nadal who had triumphed. And the tears in his eyes left no doubt about the magnitude of the win.

"I feel very lucky about what happened since I came [back]," Nadal said. "It's true that I worked, but even like this, you need luck to be where I am today. ... Means a lot for me [to] have this trophy with me today, no? It's just amazing."

The knee injury cost Nadal seven months of his career. He missed the 2012 London Olympics and the 2013 Australian Open in addition to last year's U.S. Open. When he returned in February, no one was sure if Nadal would be the same.

Now, those questions seem silly.

He has won two of the past three Grand Slams, bringing his total to 13 in his career. The 27-year-old trails only Roger Federer (17) and Pete Sampras (14) on the all-time list.

"I felt confident that if I am healthy, I will keep having chances to compete," Nadal said. "[To] win two grand slams in a year ... I never thought something like this could happen."

And the way it happened, in an enthralling match against his most formidable rival, will not be soon forgotten in men's tennis.

Nadal and Djokovic have put together one of the most entertaining rivalries men's tennis has ever seen. …

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