By Richard Deitsch
September 13, 2010

10:10 p.m. | NADAL WINS THE U.S. OPEN 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2: With flashbulbs lighting the night sky, the moment finally came at 10:02 p.m. ET. Djokovic hit a forehand wide, and Nadal collapsed to the ground in joy. He walked around Ashe Stadium with his arms aloft, knowing what he had just done. The match took 3 hours and 43 minutes. "This is more than I dreamed," Nadal said. Nadal is the third-youngest man (at 24 years, 101 days) to complete the career Grand Slam and the seventh man in history to pull off the remarkable feat, joining Andre Agassi, Don Budge, Roy Emerson, Roger Federer, Rod Laver, and Fred Perry in having won U.S., French and Australian Opens and Wimbledon titles. It is Nadal's ninth Grand Slam singles title and the championship cements him as one of the sport's all-time greats. Let the debate begin about Nadal's place in history. It is near the top.

9:51 p.m. | FOURTH SET NADAL LEADS 5-1: Djokovic does not quit. He fights Nadal in a game that includes three deuces but eventual falls. Despite what looks like a near-certain loss, Djokovic will regain the No. 2 ranking from Federer when the new ATP rankings are released tomorrow. He will equal his career best which he first achieved after this year's Australian Open.

9:41 p.m. | FOURTH SET NADAL LEADS 4-1: We're close to the end now. Djokovic played valiantly, but he looks like a beaten man. He double faults at 0-30 to give Nadal triple break point. It's Nadal 25th break point chance in the match and essentially match point. The Serb saves the first point when Nadal hits long, but Djokovic nets a forehand on the following point.

9:36 p.m. | NADAL LEADS 3-1: Nadal has yet to make an unforced error this set. He serves a love game to consolidate his break.

9:33 p.m. | FOURTH SET NADAL LEADS 2-1: Was this the game that gives Nadal his Open title? We'll eventually find out. He snapped a forehand down the line with vicious spin at 15-30 to give him another pair of break points. But once again Djokovic held him off, smacking a forehand down the line. That made it 19 break points saved for the Serb, but he could not hold Nadal off on the next chance. You get the sense Djokovic is starting to fade. Nadal sees the finish line, but there's still work to be done.

9:25 p.m. | FOURTH SET DJOKOVIC LEADS 1-0: Djokovic holds to open the fourth set. The players take a water break after the game, though it's not an official stoppage after the first game. Inside the press area, an announcement is made on the attendance for the entire tournament: 712,976.That number is down from 2009 (721,059), 2008 (720,227) and 2007 (715,587).

9:22 p.m. | FOURTH SET: A stat for you: Nadal is attempting to become the fourth man (Rod Laver, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer) to win three consecutive Grand Slam singles titles in the Open era. In Nadal's case, it would be the French, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

9:20 p.m. | NADAL WINS THIRD SET 6-4: Bravo to both players for delivering the goods here. Serving for the set, Nadal takes the opening point followed by another epic exchange with the players trading groundstrokes from the baseline before Djokovic hits a clean forehand winner. Djokovic takes a 15-30 lead when Nadal floats a forehand long, but Nadal hits a big serve to make it 30-30. Nadal follows with a 126 mph ace on the line to give him set point. He then kicks a serve wide, which Djokovic can't handle. That's the set. Nadal sprints to the middle of the court and swings his arm toward his racket in celebration. He's now one set away from a career Grand Slam.

9:07 p.m. | THIRD SET NADAL LEADS 5-3: Finally, Djokovic wins a point on Nadal's serve in the third set. It comes in the eighth game. But Nadal holds when Djokovic nets a serve at 40-30.

9:05 p.m. | TV UPDATE: If the match is still going at 10:15 p.m., TV coverage will switch from ESPN2 to ESPN Classic, its third channel of the day. You can still watch the match online on the U.S. Open's website.

9:02 p.m. | THIRD SET NADAL LEADS 4-3: An epic game. Again, Nadal gets two early break points in a game and again Djokovic saves them both, including a great drop volley at 30-40. On Nadal's third break point chance in the game, he nets a backhand. It makes him 1 for 9 on break points in the set. On his fourth break point, Djokovic hits a laser forehand to save the break again. On Nadal's fifth break point opportunity, he pushes a backhand long. Incredibly, he is 1 for 11 on break points in the set. Finally, Djokovic holds when Nadal makes another unforced error. Will Nadal come to regret a massive opportunity?

8:50 p.m. | THIRD SET NADAL LEADS 4-2: Nadal wins the game on the best rally of the match. The two trade ground strokes and volleys before Nadal chases down a lob and hits a scintillating forehand cross-court winner. Once again, Nadal wins his service game at love.

8:46 p.m. | THIRD SET NADAL LEADS 3-2: Winning 14 of 18 points at one stretch, Nadal took Djokovic to double break point while leading three games to one in the set before Djokovic charged the net and hit a deep volley that Nadal returned wide. On the second break point, Djokovic hit a tremendous forehand that Nadal could not handle. Nadal hit an easy backhand wide on his third break point of the game and 16th of match. Djokovic finally got a game point after a big serve and completed a huge save when Nadal netted a backhand. Had Nadal gone up 4-1, this set was probably over.

8:35 p.m. | THIRD SET NADAL LEADS 2-1: Interesting start to the third set. Djokovic dropped the first two points of his serving game before Nadal hit a ridiculous running crosscourt backhand while moving off the court. At triple break point, Djokovic hit his fifth ace for one save. Nadal then netted an easy shot, extending his misery to 3 for 12 on break points. Djokovic then hit an easy forehand well wide for the break. Nadal held his service game at love. We'll now see what Nadal does with this early break. For more on the TV switch from CBS to ESPN2, click here.

8:25 p.m. | THIRD SET DJOKOVIC LEADS 1-0: Djokovic has an easy hold despite his first double fault of the match. It's worth noting Djokovic is 3 for 3 on break points thus far. Impressive against Nadal.

8:20 p.m. | DJOKOVIC WINS SECOND SET 7-5: Some tense moments as Nadal once again needed to serve to extend the set. At 15-15 he hit a 125 mph ace wide for an ace. Djokovic played brilliant defensive tennis on the next point, running down a forehand deep off the court, forcing Nadal to hit a half volley, which he dumped into net. At 30-30 Djokovic forced Nadal into an error to get the break point. Nadal then netted a tough return for the break. All tied up at Flushing Meadows. Game on.

8:14 p.m. | SECOND SET DJOKOVIC LEADS 6-5: The level of play is very high right now. Serving to stay in the set, Nadal hit some blistering forehands to extend the set to 5-5. Djokovic hit his fourth ace to the start the 11th game before Nadal hit an unbelievable running cross-court backhand from well behind the baseline on the following point. At 30-30 Djokovic hit a 114 mph serve wide and rushed to the net, hitting an easy overhead for the winner. He then closed the game on a gorgeous drop shot.

8:05 p.m. | SECOND SET DJOKOVIC LEADS 5-4: Play resumed at 7:59 p.m. after a 1 hour, 48 minute rain delay. Djokovic blasted a forehand winner on the first point back, but Nadal painted the line on the next point to put the game at deuce. Djokovic responded with another massive forehand to take an advantage and finally won the game a couple of points later when he hit an easy winner on a short return by Nadal. Both players were sharp after the delay.

7:48 p.m. | PLAYERS WARMING UP: Nadal and Djokovic are back on the court. The theme from "Rocky" is playing over the loud speakers at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Players seem into it, despite the fact that neither was born when the movie was made.

7:21 p.m. | SKIES CLEAR: The rain has stopped at Flushing Meadows, and the squeegee brigade is working on Ashe.

7:01 p.m. | DELAY UPDATE: Still raining hard at the Open. Plenty of rain-soaked people throughout the grounds. The announced attendance was 23,771, but it's hard to imagine that many people have remained through this delay. At the moment, there is no estimated start time. We'll keep you updated.

6:24 p.m. | DELAY UDPATE: CBS just announced that the conclusion of the Nadal-Djokovic match will continue on ESPN2 around 7:30 p.m. For more on the delay, check out SI's Open Source blog.

6:08 p.m. | DELAY UPDATE: The rain is expected to last 60 to 75 minutes, according to U.S. Open officials. After that, the forecast looks good and officials expect the match to conclude tonight.

6:03 p.m. | SECOND SET PLAY SUSPENDED: Play has been stopped at 6:02 p.m. with the set tied at 4-4 and the score 30-30. The rain is coming down steadily. U.S. Open referee, Brian Earley, has told the players to go inside the locker room, an indication that they will be inside for a bit. We'll provide more updates when we know. Check out the live radar here. Go grab something to eat.

5:57 p.m. | SECOND SET TIED AT 4-4: Nadal jumped to a 40-0 lead before Djokovic hit a sizzling forehand. Nadal then hit a forehand wide to make it 40-30, but Djokovic netted an easy serve. All tied at four in the second.

5:53 p.m. | SECOND SET DJOKOVIC LEADS 4-3: With his streak of not losing a set in danger, Nadal played brilliantly in the game. The crowd started chanting "Rafa!, Rafa!" for Nadal's first break-point chance, but Djokovic saved the point when Nadal chipped a ball long. With the crowd and the intensity rising, Djokovic netted a backhand on deuce, screaming at himself. But Nadal netted his second break point and punched his racket at the miscue. The Spaniard got a third break chance on a big cross-court forehand winner and, finally, Nadal broke on a huge backhand that Djokovic could not handle. It's a new set.

5:41 p.m. | SECOND SET DJOKOVIC LEADS 4-2: It's so rare to see Nadal this tentative and perplexed. Djokovic wins 11 straight points before he nets a backhand after Nadal charged the net on an approach shot. Djokovic crunched a forehand winner (his 10th of the match) down the line to make it 30-30. Nadal holds and now we'll see if Djokovic can keep it up on his serve.

5:37 p.m. | SECOND SET DJOKOVIC LEADS 4-1: Djokovic is really playing well. He breaks at love and holds at love, punctuating the game with a crackling cross-court forehand at 40-0. Nadal looks done in the set. Time to settle in because I'm going to be here for a while.

5:34 p.m. | SECOND SET DJOKOVIC LEADS 3-1: Brutal game for Nadal. Djokovic had a nice opening as Nadal got a little tight and hit a forehand wide to make it 0-30. Nadal then double-faulted to make it 0-40. Djokovic broke at love after a long rally when Nadal hit a shot wide. It was Nadal's second time being broken in the match and Djokovic screamed out, "Come on!" after the point. Big momentum swing here.

5:27 p.m. | SECOND SET DJOKOVIC LEADS 2-1: Djokovic stayed on serve by holding in a comfortable game. The players are feeling each out in this set. Just saw an interesting stat in the press room: Djokovic has a 3-12 win-loss record against the No.1-ranked player and has never beaten Nadal when the Spaniard has been ranked No. 1.

5:24 p.m. | SECOND SET GAMES TIED AT 1-1: Nadal hit back to back aces to take a 40-0 lead in the second game but Djokovic hit a fantastic running cross-court shot to cut the lead to 40-30. He then hit a gorgeous drop shot that Nadal could not track down to cut it to deuce. Djokovic was dictating the points in this game but hit two balls long to give Nadal the hold.

5:16 p.m. | SECOND SET DJOKOVIC LEADS 1-0: Djokovic began the second set by winning a love game on his serve.

5:13 p.m. | NADAL WINS FIRST SET 6-4: As rain falls on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Nadal got up 30-0 quickly. Djokovic traded groundstrokes with him and forced Nadal into an error to make it 30-15 but Nadal smacked a massive forehand that Djokovic netted to get it to set point. Djokovic then airmailed a forehand long to give Nadal the set in 50 minutes. Nadal is looking to become the first man in the Open era to win the U.S. Open without losing a set. He's one-third of the way home.

5:07 p.m. | NADAL LEADS 5-4: Djokovic holds in a very calm game. Now comes Nadal to serve for the set. The temperature is 75 degrees but clouds are starting to move in from the west and it's now starting to rain. Nadal is a great front runner so Djokovic must take some chance here to figure out a break. It's very hard to think he'll come back if Nadal takes this opening set, especially with the miles on his legs from the Federer match.

5:04 p.m. | NADAL LEADS 5-3: Djokovic held his serve at love in the seventh game but Nadal continued to raise his play on his serve. He opened the eighth game with a big forehand down the line and Djokovic hit a weak drop shot that landed on his side of the net for a quick 30-0. Nadal finished the game with a love hold of his own.

4:59 p.m. | NADAL LEADS 4-2: Nadal hit a 132 mph serve -- his biggest of the match -- on 30-15 and is starting to find his groove. Djokovic went wide on a backhand to give Nadal an easy service game.

4:54 p.m. | NADAL LEADS 3-2: Gorgeous early moments from Nadal, including a slice backhand winner to give him three break points at 0-40. Djokovic saved the first point when Nadal hit a backhand wide. He saved a second break point on a sizzling forehand set up by a huge serve. He then saved another and gained an advantage on a strong serve wide but gave it right back on a major forehand shank that the wind took. Nadal moved Djokovic side to side in an effort to move him around the court but Djokovic was covering plenty of ground and did not show any of the movement problems that he had early in the set. Nadal failed on his first five break chances before he finally cracked a forehand winner for the break. The game lasted more than eight minutes and Djokovic slammed his racket to the ground as he headed to his chair. Huge game.

4:43 p.m. | GAME TIED AT 2-2: Djokovic did not call for a trainer during the break after the third game. At 15-30 in the fourth game, Djokovic had Nadal in big trouble but he hit an inside-out forehand to Nadal's forehand that the Spaniard tracked down. Still, Djokovic looked very strong. He broke Nadal when the Spaniard hit a forehand wide. A very sloppy game here for Nadal who dropped serve for only the third time in 93 service games.

4:36 p.m. | NADAL LEADS 2-1: The match is going to be about long rallies and defensive tennis. The two had a 27-stroke rally in the second game and Nadal will be happy to run down groundstrokes all day. Djokovic fired long on game point in the second game to give Nadal a 2-0 lead but recovered with a strong service game. The Serb is moving better as well.

4:25 p.m. | NADAL LEADS 1-0: The first ball went up at 4:21 p.m. and the opening rally of the match was 19 strokes, with Djokovic tracking down a Nadal drop shot and eventually putting away a winner into an empty court. CBS commentator John McEnroe said he thought Djokovic was favoring his left ankle early in the match. The Serb was broken in the first game of the match when Nadal hit a backhand passing shot down the line. He went to his chair and was flexing his knees. Something might be wrong with Djokovic. Stay tuned.

4:20 p.m. | Prematch: Djokovic has a 3-12 win-loss record against the No.1-ranked player. He has never beaten Nadal when the Spaniard has been ranked No. 1.

4:15 p.m. | Prematch: Nadal would be the third-youngest man (at 24 years, 101 days) to complete the career Grand Slam. Don Budge (22 years, 357 days) and Rod Laver (24 years, 32 days)are the youngest. Nadal would also be the second man to complete the career Grand Slam by winning the U.S. Open (Laver won the U.S. championships in 1962 for his career Slam).

4:04 p.m. Prematch: If Nadal wins today he will be the first left-hander to win the U.S. Open since John McEnroe in 1984 and the first Spanish champion to win the Open since Manuel Orantes, who won the title in 1975. He is 8-2 in Grand Slam finals and both losses came at Wimbledon against Federer (in 2006 and 2007). Djokovic is looking to win his second Grand Slam singles title and a win would make him the first player to win a second major title since Nadal won the 2006 French Open. He is 1-1 in Grand Slam finals, including a win at the 2008 Australian Open and a loss to Federer at the U.S. Open in 2007.

3:57 p.m. | Prematch: Nadal is currently on a 20-match Grand Slam winning streak, his longest-ever winning streak at the majors. His road to the final has been particularly easy. The Spaniard has been on the court for a paltry 14 hours and 24 minutes over his six matches, while Djokovic has clocked in 15 hours and 45 minutes during the tournament, including three-hour-and-40-minute matches against Viktor Troicki in the opening round and Federer in the semis.

3:52 p.m. | Prematch: There's very little buzz on the grounds today, at least early. The late-arriving crowd was still strolling in close to the match and about half the concession stands are closed up (including the Fulton Seafood stand, featuring the take-out-a-loan $18.75 lobster roll). Outside the gates to the National Tennis Center, there were a larger than usual group looking to buy and sell tickets. I'd be surprised if Arthur Ashe Stadium is packed to capacity.


Rafael Nadal is on the cusp of history. If the world's top-ranked player can defeat Novak Djokovic in this afternoon's U.S. Open men's final (weather permitting, of course), he will win his first U.S. Open title, ninth Grand Slam singles title overall and become the seventh man to complete the career Grand Slam, joining Andre Agassi, Don Budge, Roy Emerson, Roger Federer, Rod Laver, and Fred Perry in having won U.S., French and Australian Opens and Wimbledon title.

But it will not be easy.

His opponent, No. 3-seed Novak Djokovic, defeated Roger Federer on Saturday in an epic three-hour, 44-minute semifinal, and has been aided by an additional day of rest.

Nadal leads the overall matchup 14-7 but Djokovic has a solid record against Nadal on hardcourts, owning a 7-3 record against him. While Djokovic has won his last three matches against Nadal, the most recent in London at last year's ATP Finals, he has never beaten Nadal in a final or at a Grand Slam event.'s Richard Deitsch, who is at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, will live-blog the match here and will have plenty of post-match coverage.

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