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The Spaniard triumphed over the world number one in a near three-and-a-half-hour match of the highest quality at Flushing Meadows.
Nadal displayed the form that has resulted in critics claiming that he is playing the best tennis of his career when he proved too powerful for a slow-starting Djokovic in the first set.
He twice broke the top seed and showed stubborn defence when, on the same amount of occasions, he held serve with the scores at deuce on his way to taking the opener.
Djokovic found his feet midway through the second set and began to match Nadal stroke for stroke from the baseline, which produced some fantastic action for the New York crowd.
One incredible 54-shot rally earned Djokovic a break, but, despite saving two break points of his own, the Serbian immediately lost his advantage when Nadal responded to put the set back on serve.
There was to be a break for a third consecutive game as Djokovic regained his two-game lead, and a superb backhand winner down the line in the next game helped him to level the contest.
Some stunning return saw the 26-year-old break again early in the third set, but several unforced errors gifted Nadal parity once more at 3-3, and the Spaniard never lost the momentum after that moment.
An incredible series of backhands secured the 2010 champion the third set, and, after he saved two break points in the opening game of the fourth, the contest was one-sided until the conclusion.
As he did in the first set, Nadal broke Djokovic twice and surrendered only three points on his own serve, as he went on to complete a fantastic four-set victory.
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