Tennis

Sweet 16th For Super Rafa

Sweet 16th For Super Rafa

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Love for the game

A near flawless display for Rafa Nadal saw the Spaniard win his 16th Grand Slam title with a straight sets win over South African, Kevin Anderson.

It is the first time since 2013 that Nadal has won two Slams in a year, following his win at Roland Garros in June.

Nadal puts this success down to his resurging love for the game.

Despite his age, the Manacor native says he is as passionate as ever about his beloved sport. “I am 31, I’m not 25, but I still have the passion and the love for the game“.

His unrelenting drive is clear for all to see as he reals in Roger Federer and his record of 19 Grand Slam titles. Nadal went into the final with a 4-0 record against Anderson and this affair was no different. It was a ruthless, efficient job done by a man playing in his 23rd Grand Slam final, up against an opponent who was competing in his very first final showpiece.

The signs were ominous from the get go. Anderson had to fight through six deuces in his second and third service games as Nadal pressed hard to break early. The South African came into the final with a tournament high 114 aces and he was always going to reply on his big service game to get a foothold in the game, but alas Nadal sized him up and won with ease.

Sloane Stephens – from world number 957 to Grand Slam winner!

One can scarcely believe the rise of this American super star. The 24-year-old Florida native was ranked 83rd in the world on the opening Monday of the coveted tournament, then went on to the final where she trashed her compatriot and friend Madison Keys 6-3, 6-0 in 61 minutes.

After returning from an 11 month layoff due to a serious injury, Stephens was quoted saying: “If you told someone this story, they’d be, like, ‘That’s insane’.”.

However, having been laid up for nearly a year, Stephens revealed that it was boredom rather than nerves that were getting the better of her; “I was looking at car reviews last night on Auto Trader, like literally. That’s how bored I was. I didn’t have anything to do.”

It goes to show how modest and down to earth this rising star is. She can easily be an idol that young female tennis players can aspire to be. Although this is Stephens’ crowning glory, it’s not the first time she has grabbed the headlines.

In 2013, she beat Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarter-finals and that’s when her promise was clear for all. Her victory over Keys was her 15th in 17 matches, which is the kind of form shown by someone that is eyeing the world number one spot rather than battling it out in qualifying matches for the seasons Grand Slams.

What’s next in store?

Many questions still linger after the final Grand Slam of the season.

  • How fit is Andy Murray?
  • Will Djokovic come back as strong as he was in 2016?
  • Can Nadal close the gap on Federer?
  • How many seasons has the Swiss genius left at the top level?

All these questions are as intriguing as the next but all will be answered at different stages of the 2018 court season.

Murray looks like his success is taking a toll on his body. Tennis legend and current pundit, Boris Becker, reckons Murray cannot keep treating his body like he is a 20 year old again and maybe take a leaf out of Federer’s book. The ageing Swiss legend carefully picks and chooses what tournaments to enter as some will help him prepare in the best possible way for the Grand Slams.

Nadal looks like he is playing some of the best tennis of his career and surely nobody would bet against him picking up his 11th French Open title at Roland Garros next June? The man is a machine on clay.

Novak Djokovic and his team are taking some well-earned rest in the hope of getting the big Serb back to his destructive best. All these possibilities thrown together and with plenty of shocks and upsets along the way paves the way for a terrific and engaging 2018 season.

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