This time, Nadal was relentless from shot to shot, yes, and from point to point, too, but what might have been most impressive was the way he stayed steady when Djokovic recovered from a rough start and began asserting himself.
Nadal was broken once through his first six matches in the tournament — a string that reached 88 games by early in the final's second set. But with Djokovic gaining control of more of the many extended exchanges, he broke Nadal three times in a row.
The initial break came for a 4-2 lead, thanks to the crescendo of a 55-swing exchange. Djokovic used superb defense to elongate the point, tossing his body around to bail himself out repeatedly by blunting Nadal's violent strokes. When the memorable point ended, Djokovic bellowed and raised both arms, and thousands of fans stood, chanting his nickname, "No-le! No-le!"
The final momentum shift back to Nadal came when he served at 4-all in the third set. Djokovic earned three break points, thanks in part to a tremendous lob-volley and another point when Nadal slipped and tumbled to his backside.
But a quick forehand winner by Nadal, a forehand into the net by Djokovic on a 22-stroke point, and a 125 mph ace — Nadal's only one of the evening, it drew shouts of "Vamos!" from Uncle Toni — helped avoid another break.
In the very next game, Nadal broke Djokovic's serve and, apparently, his will. When that set ended with Djokovic pushing a forehand long on a 19-shot point, Nadal screamed as he knelt down at the baseline, his racket on the court and his left fist pumping over and over and over.
"Thirteen," Nadal would say later, "is an amazing number."
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