US Open 2017: Rafael Nadal wins his 16th Grand Slam title beating Kevin Anderson in straight sets
Rafael Nadal completed a dominant US Open performance Sunday, defeating Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. Nadal caps off an extraordinary 2017 season as the No. 1 player in the world, in which he won the French and US Opens and made the Australian Open final against Roger Federer.
Tiger Woods was in attendance for the second straight Nadal match, sitting in his box. The 31-year-old Nadal has showed no signs of slowing down, dropping only one set in his last four matches.
The last set went on for just under 50 minutes, with Anderson forcing Nadal to work for every game. However, it ultimately proved too much for the No. 28 player in the world, as Nadal simply seemed to have him on his toes the entire match while returning everything with the fluidity that tennis fans have come to expect.
Anderson had several excellent rallies in the third set, including a superb return at the net on a shot that Nadal tried to lob over him, but mistakes such as a freebie overhead that he returned long were insurmountable against the ATP's best player.
Among his 16 Grand Slams, this is Nadal's third US Open win. It was a relatively depleted field, as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic withdrew before the tournament, but Nadal faced seed killers such as Juan Martin del Potro and looked like he struggled early in matches in the early rounds.
He quickly overcame any fears people may have had about his game, brushing aside unranked Andrey Rublev and Alexandr Dolgopolov. Del Potro defeated Federer and was looking to defeat two top five seeds in a row, but after taking the first set he simply couldn't keep up with Nadal.
Anderson entered after having to beat No. 17 Sam Querrey and No. 12 Palbo Carreno Busta. It was apparent early on that Anderson was struggling against Nadal's serve, and Nadal was competitive in every one of Anderson's serve games. Once he took one of Anderson's game in a set, he never looked back. It would have been Anderson's first major win, and he would have been the lowest-ranking US Open winner ever.
For Nadal, this win is just as much a reminder of his longevity as it is a pillar of his legacy. He's 31, five years younger than Federer, and he's closing in on Federer's record 19 Grand Slam titles. During the 2014-2016 seasons Nadal struggled with injuries, but 2017 has seen a return to form for the star. If he's able to keep this pace up, it looks more than possible for him to catch Federer, although health will be a key component in that quest.