Rafael Nadal produced an incredible performance to win another US Open. The Spaniard put his remarkable recent resurgence down to his “love for the game” after claiming another Grand Slam title, his sixteenth in an unbelievable career.
The current World Number 1 was too much for South Africa’s Kevin Anderson to claim his third title at Flushing Meadows 6-3 6-3 6-4. After his French Open success in earlier in the year, this is the first time Nadal can boast winning two Slams in the same year.
“I still have the passion and the love for the game”
Nadal said, “I wake up every morning with the passion to go on court and to try to improve things. I still want to compete and still feel the nerves every time that I go on court. While that keeps happening, I will be here. When some day arrives that I don’t feel the nerves or that extra passion for the game that I feel, it will be the day to say, ‘OK, I do another thing. I am 31, I’m not 25, but I still have the passion and the love for the game.”
The success for Nadal means he is just three Slams away from Roger Federer’s all-time record of 19 Grand Slam titles, with the pair sharing all four major victories between them in 2017. This has come after both men were forced to end their 2016 campaigns early due to injury, which casted doubt on their futures careers and ability to even challenge at the highest level again.
Nadal said, “I just can say thanks to life for that opportunity. Probably that’s why I still have chances to compete in this sport and to do it well. That’s all.”
Nadal is chasing Roger Federer’s Slam record, but if he had converted the lead he took over the Swiss in the final set of this year’s Australian Open final, the Spaniard would be just one major title behind.
“I’m very happy with all the things that are happening to me”
Nadal added, “I really never thought much about that. I just do my way. He does his way. Let’s see when we finish. Three is a big difference. I really don’t think much about these kind of things. I’m very happy with all the things that are happening to me, to win this title again. I have this trophy with me.”
This was Nadal’s last Grand Slam tournament with his uncle Toni, the man who first put a racquet in his hand at just three years old. Carlos Moya, the former world number one and a close friend of Nadal, is set to take on coaching duties next year alongside long-time team member Francis Roig.
Toni Nadal, who didn’t rule out a return to the player box, will take on the running of his nephew’s tennis academy in Majorca. Nadal said, “He’s going to stop and going to put more attention on the academy. That would be great for my academy, and will be great for the kids. That doesn’t mean that Toni will not travel any more. No, no, I believe that it will be stupid to say that. But of course he will not be in the diary of my practices and of my travels.”
Nadal’s route to victory
- First round: beat Dusan Lajovic (Serbia) 7-6 (7-6) 6-2 6-2
- Second round: beat Taro Daniel (Japan) 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2
- Third round: beat Leonardo Mayer (Argentina) 6-7 (7-3) 6-3 6-1 6-4
- Fourth round: beat Alexandr Dolgopolov (Ukraine) 6-2 6-4 6-1
- Quarter-finals: beat Andrey Rublev (Russia) 6-1 6-2 6-2
- Semi-finals: beat Juan Martin del Potro (Argentina) 4-6 6-0 6-3 6-2
- Final: beat Kevin Anderson (South Africa) 6-3 6-3 6-4
South African runner-up Anderson, appearing in his first Grand Slam, had come out with aggressive intent, but was still forced to handle 12 deuces and save four break points just to get through his first three service games.
The break inevitably came in the very next game, which set the pattern of the match. Nadal was stood a full five metres behind the baseline, which allowed him to read Anderson’s powerful serve far more effectively. When the South African got mid-court to attack, he often missed his chance.
The fact that Nadal has been able to win on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows and the clay of Roland Garros means Nadal will be seen forever as a special player. It has also all but guaranteed that Nadal will end the year as world number 1 for a fourth time.