US Open: Nadal will break Federer's Grand Slam titles record, says Rusedski
Rafael Nadal's US Open victory caps the greatest comeback in sport, says Greg Rusedski.
Last Updated: 10/09/13 11:06am
Nadal, 27, claimed his 10th title since returning from seven months out with a knee injury by beating World No 1 Novak Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in a thrilling final at Flushing Meadows.
The win earned Nadal his second US Open title and second Grand Slam success of the season after victory at the French Open and also extended the Spaniard's unbeaten run on hardcourts to 22 matches.
"They call him the 'King of Clay' but he's the 'King of Hardcourts' now," said former British No 1 Rusedski. "This is probably the greatest comeback I have ever seen in sport.
"He didn't play in the Australian Open and he lost in the first round of Wimbledon so it's a massive leap to get to this point. There's no question who is the number one player on the planet right now.
"Yes, Djokovic will still be number one in the rankings on Monday but in all of the players' minds right now - especially after two Grand Slam victories from Rafa - he really is the World No 1 right now.
"But Djokovic is resilient. If I was his coach Marian Vajda I'd show him the second set and half of the third and say 'that's the way you've got to play Novak if you are going to beat Rafa and get back.
"Djokovic is the one who has been chased for the last two-and-a-half years and now he's going to be the one chasing Rafa."
Nadal seized an early advantage by winning the first set in just 42 minutes only for Djokovic to rediscover some of his best form in the second set, which included an incredible 54-shot rally won by the Serb. Read our match report here.
Boris Becker, who won the US Open in 1989, told Sky Sports he was in awe at the quality of tennis produced by the two finalists.
"The second and third sets produced some of the best tennis I've ever seen in my life - and I've seen a lot of tennis," said Becker.
"After Nadal ran away with the first set I didn't think Djokovic was going to come back but at the end of the third set he was a break up and had 0-40 at 4-4. But once Nadal won the third set he was impossible to stop and he was a very deserving winner.
"Nadal has performed at an unbelievably consistent level throughout the year - every match he has played he's been close to perfection - whereas Djokovic, throughout the year and here, has had his moments of glory (winning the Australian Open) and moments of despair.
"Djokovic played out of his comfort zone whereas Nadal was always in his. It's got to be painful for the number one player in the world to be beaten convincingly again in a Grand Slam final.
"Djokovic has got to go back to the drawing board and work out what made him strong in the first place. He had this incredible season two years ago when he hardly lost a match. That's what he'll be thinking about and then working on for the rest of the year."
Nadal now sits third in the list of most Grand Slam singles titles won with 13 to his name, one behind American Pete Sampras and four short of Roger Federer's record tally of 17 - while Djokovic has triumphed in six Grand Slams.
Rusedski told Sky Sports he has no doubt that the Spaniard will overhaul Federer's haul so long as he is able to stay fit.
"Nadal is now just four titles behind the great Roger Federer and I think he can catch him and break all records the way he is playing at the moment," he insisted.
"I hate to say it but think Federer's best is behind him. I think it is about the top three now - Murray, Djokovic and Nadal. Nadal right now is 'Superman' and I see him breaking the record if he stays healthy. He's too good.
"No-one's beaten him at the French Open in a long time - he's 59-1 there, the only person to beat him being Roger Soderling - so you've got to give him that title next year.
"If he continues like this on the hardcourts, watch out Down Under at the start of the year. I think the record is going to be broken."
Becker added: "I thought Roger's record would never be broken but the man from Spain is getting awfully close. The more he plays and puts on shows like tonight, the closer he's going to get. If Nadal stays healthy until he's 30 he's going to get to 17."
Watch extended highlights of US Open Final on Sky Sports 1 from 10am this morning.