Ruthless Rafa: How Nadal Won The US Open Title
Rafael Nadal defeated Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in Sunday's US Open final, needing two hours and 27 minutes to claim his third title at Flushing Meadows. With the roof open on Arthur Ashe Stadium, top-seeded Nadal notched his 16th major crown.
Here is how the final unfolded...
FIRST SET - Nadal 6-3
Anderson had claimed just one set in four previous meetings against Nadal, but the 31 year old is a much different player than he was in those encounters. Playing more aggressive tennis throughout the fortnight, he looked to pummel his forehand through Nadal's defences and maintain a high first-serve percentage.
Relying on his superior agility from the back of the court, Nadal conjured a pair of break points at 1-all. A backhand lob return winner landed just inside the baseline as Anderson attacked the net with a serve-and-volley approach. With celebrities Rupert Murdoch, Jerry Seinfeld, Hilary Swank, Tony Bennett and Bill Gates in attendance, Anderson earned a gritty 12-minute hold.
Both players looked to open the court with wide angles, but Nadal's dogged defence and court coverage refused to allow his opponent to find consistent success from the baseline. Anderson struck 20 unforced errors to Nadal's four through the first seven games of the match, as the World No. 1 broke for 4-3.
A second break would close out the set after 58 minutes, as a net-charging Nadal struck a backhand winner. He won seven of seven net points in the opener.
SECOND SET - Nadal 6-3
Nadal dropped just four points on serve in the first set, a stat Anderson looked to change early in the second. A forehand winner would give him a 30/30 look at the Manacor native's 1-all service game, but Nadal would escape from trouble.
Standing towards the back wall and biding his time before pressing forward with great depth, Nadal goaded Anderson into leaving his forehand short in the court. The World No. 1 would slam aside a volley winner to break for 4-2, as his perfect net points mark extended to 11-of-11 won. He would surge to a two-set advantage after one hour and 37 minutes.
THIRD SET - Nadal 6-4
Anderson did not play a poor match and will hold his head high after a strong fortnight in New York, but Nadal proved to be an impenetrable force throughout Sunday's final. He would open the third with another break and dropped just eight points on serve in the set, fighting to the finish line after Anderson pushed him to deuce when serving for the title.
Nadal raised his arms in triumph on his second match point, moving forward for a serve-and-volley winner. He prevailed after two hours and 27 minutes, firing 30 winners to just 11 unforced errors. He won 16 of 16 net points in total, while not facing a break point.