Rafael Nadal is the US Open champion, storming to his 16th major title with a 6-3 6-3 6-4 win over South African Kevin Anderson in Sunday’s final in New York.
The victory was his second Grand Slam victory of 2017 – after he won his 10th Roland Garros crown in June – and his first hardcourt trophy in almost four years.
With five titles now this season, plus big finals at the Australian Open and in Miami, Nadal strengthens his grip on the world No.1 ranking.
“Personally it’s just unbelievable what happened this year, no?” he said during the trophy presentation at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“After a couple of years with some troubles, injuries, some moments playing not good, yeah since the beginning of the season has been very emotional, because since the first important event of the year in Australia have been playing I think very high level of tennis.
“To close the Grand Slam year winning here in New York, that’s one of the events that brings me to the higher energy of the world because the crowd here is just unbelievable, just make me feel so, so happy.
“I just can say thank you very much to life for that opportunity.”
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 10, 2017
Although the opening games were tight, Nadal always had the ascendancy. Holding easily, then threatening to break Anderson again and again, the world No.1 chipped away at the South African’s energy levels before grabbing the decisive break in the opening set to lead 4-3.
From then on it was a straight march to the opener for the Spaniard.
The second was almost a carbon copy of the first, Nadal upping the pressure on Anderson’s serve. He advanced to the net in the sixth game, stabbing two volleys and then putting away the third shot at net to break for a 4-2 lead.
Like the two that preceded it, Nadal needed just a single break to secure the title. It came in the first game of the set, when Anderson led 40-15 only to let it slip out of his grasp.
Despite Anderson pushing hard to find a way back into the match there was nothing he could do. Nadal is a great front runner and soon found himself a game away from the title with a 5-3 lead.
Anderson at least forced Nadal to serve for the title and had a golden opportunity in the 10th game to take a 15-30 lead against a slightly tight Nadal – only to botch an overhead long of the baseline.
Serving strongly, Nadal arrived at match point and then volleyed a winner into the open court, a broad smile sweeping across his face as he secured his third US Open title.
Despite the loss, this was Anderson’s first appearance in a major final, an incredible effort at 31 years of age and given his injury struggles of 2016.
“It’s been an amazing two weeks for me. Last year was difficult for me, it’s tough when you’re injured as a tennis player and the competition is so strong,” said the South African, who fell to world No.70 last year as knee, shoulder, ankle and groin injuries forced his withdrawal from nine tournaments.
“And to come back and make my first final of a Grand Slam, it’s really been a special two weeks.”
He also had some special words for Nadal, a friend and rival since childhood.
— Kelsey Anderson (@KelseyOAnderson) September 9, 2017
“I know we’re the same age but I feel I’ve been watching you my whole life. You have been an idol of mine and it’s tough playing you – you proved it again tonight. You’re one of the greatest ambassadors of our sport, so congratulations.
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