There is just one number that you need to know in order to comprehend just how hard Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal battled in the 2013 U.S Open final.
It's not 13 (the number of Grand Slam singles titles won by Nadal), 2 (the number of of times Nadal has won the U.S. Open), 37 (the record number of time that Nadal and Djokovic have played), 27 (the number of winners Nadal hit in the final) or even 53 (the number of unforced errors by Djokovic). The most compelling number from the scintillating, back-and-forth men's singles final is 54 (the number of shots in an epic rally in the second set).
After Nadal roared to a first set win, Djokovic fought his way into the match and delighted the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium by winning a marathon break point that put the world class athleticism, poise and power of both players on display. Top-seeded Djokovic raised both arms in triumph after winning the point to break Nadal's serve and take a 4-2 lead in the second set.
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"I felt really tired after that point," Nadal said of the 54-shot rally that he lost. "Opponent is tired too. But I thought, it's my moment to be strong."
Despite dropping the second set 6-3 to Djokovic, the 2013 men's final was indeed Nadal's moment. He regained control of the match in the third set and closed it out with authority in the fourth.
"He was too good. He definitely deserved to win this match today and this trophy," Djokovic said after the match. "Obviously disappointing to lose a match like this."