Rafa Rolls To Third U.S. Open Title• And His 16th Slam • Nadal Beat Kevin Anderson

Written by: on 11th September 2017
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USA TENNIS US OPEN 2017
Rafa Rolls To Third U.S. Open Title• And His 16th Slam • Nadal Beat Kevin Anderson

epa06197248 Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates with the championship trophy after defeating Kevin Anderson of South Africa to win the US Open Tennis Championships men's final round match at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, 10 September 2017. The US Open runs through September 10. EPA-EFE/JUSTIN LANE  |

Nadal rolls to third U.S. Open title–and 16th major–by beating Anderson in straight sets

By Ricky Dimon

Seven years ago, the U.S. Open was the last piece of the puzzle Rafael Nadal needed to complete the career Grand Slam. Some wondered if he would ever win it. Once at most, right? Maybe two if he’s lucky?

How about three?

Nadal triumphed in New York for the third time on Sunday afternoon, lifting the trophy once again following a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 rout of Kevin Anderson. The world No. 1 did not face a single break point while coasting to victory in two hours and 27 minutes. Nadal used unusually strong and well-placed returns to break Anderson four times and he almost kept up with the 6’8” South African in the winners department (32 to 30 in Anderson’s favor). The Spaniard also committed a mere 11 unforced errors, whereas 40 mistakes came off the underdog’s racket.

“(It has) been a great two weeks,” Nadal assured, “increasing (my) level of tennis, increasing [in] confidence during that two weeks. I have this trophy with me again here in New York; means a lot to me. There is no better way to finish the Grand Slam season for me after a very emotional season in all aspects.

“(I’m) very happy the way that I played–happy the way that I managed the pressure and the way that I was competing during the whole event.”

Nadal’s only real trouble throughout the fortnight came in the form of slow starts during week one–most notably against Taro Daniel and Leonardo Mayer. He also dropped the first set to Juan Martin Del Potro in the semifinals, although that was less surprising.

But there was no such issue in the title match. Nadal stormed out of the gates in blistering fashion. The top seed pushed Anderson to deuce in all five of his first-set service games, managing to break at 3-3 and 5-3. Breaks at 3-2 in the second and to begin the third were easily enough for Nadal to sail across the finish line.

“I think I played the right match,” the 16-time slam champion commented. “I put a lot of balls in. I let him play all the time, and that was my goal–to try to have long rallies, to try to have long points, because he will try to play short (ones). If the ball is going over the net couple of times helps, because he gets more tired. He’s taller. His movements are a little bit worse than my ones. That was the goal for me, to take advantage and try to move him.”

If Nadal had an edge in movement, he enjoyed an ever bigger advantage in the department of experience. It was his 23rd major final, whereas Anderson was competing in his first. The world No. 32 had previously advanced to just one Grand Slam quarterfinal.

“Obviously (I’m) very pleased of making my way through to the finals and having that experience,” Anderson said. “(Only) a few players get that chance. It’s very tough. To step out on court against Rafa, I learned a lot of lessons. It was a difficult match, up against somebody who has been on that stage over 20 times before.”

From the looks of things, make that 23 times and counting.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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