Serena, Nadal Both Go the Distance to Go the Distance
While the wind in New York was pushing volleys, the finals opponents of Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal were pushing them.
But both overcame challenges that pushed them to their very limits on their way to the Women's and Men's championships at the 2013 US Open.
Williams outlasted Victoria Azarenka, 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1 in a match that was 15 minutes shy of three hours on her way to a 17th Grand Slam title in her illustrious career. The feisty Belarusian has spent the better part of a year raising her game and has given Serena some solid matches, but as this event has proven yet again, she's still got work to do.
For her part, Serena not only relies on her tremendous power, but new coach Patrick Mouratoglou has insisted on more creativity and pinache in her game, and Williams has responded. This will continue to serve her well as she moves deeper into her 30s.
Meanwhile, the much-accomplished Novak Djokovic can remember the back half of this year's Grand Slams as his providing the backdrop to Andy Murray's historic Wimbledon triumph in July and now to Rafael Nadal's complete comeback from a knee injury that sidelined him for 11 months.
Djokovic ultimately fell, 6-2, 3-3, 6-4, 6-1, but not before extending Nadal in exchanges such as the 54-volley gem:
The last time these two met for a Grand Slam title, the setting was in Sydney, 2012. It was a six-hour marathon in which the Serb emerged victorious. But this day belonged to Nadal, usually pegged as a clay court specialist. He's clearly a master of that surface but showed that he could be quite comfortable -- and obviously competitive -- on the acrylic turf in Flushing Meadows.
Both Williams and Nadal now move into the lucrative exhibition season with this year's accomplishments well in tow and showing no signs of slowing down.