It would be safe to assume that Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal were two players who were at the peak of their powers at the turn of the second decade of the 21st century. Both players played one epic match after another. After a decade of their rivalry that produced 49 matches so far, Djokovic leads the way with 26 wins compared to Nadal’s 23.
Both are known for playing the quality of tennis that leaves the spectators in shock and awe; Djokovic with his brute force and Nadal with his athleticism. The said instance goes back to the US Open final in 2011, where Nadal, after completing a career slam at the same venue last year, headed to defend his crown against an inspired Serb, who had already won the Australian Open and Wimbledon that year.
Leading by two sets, Djokovic was serving to defend a break point at 3-4 in the third set. Halfway through the rally, Djokovic had Nadal on the backfoot, thwarting every attempt of his to rush to the net through his powerful ground strokes. While the Serb kept firing shots worthy of winners on any other day, he found it difficult to get them past the athletic Nadal who defended his heart out from the baseline.
Nadal ran towards either side of the baseline nearly 8 times during the 31 stroke rally. When Djokovic had enough, he produced a stinging backhand down the line which had the spectators cheering while he stuck a ‘Christ the Redeemer’-like pose for the shutterbugs.
Djokovic went on to win the final in four sets, completing a memorable year for him with three grand slam titles to his name.