16th Slam title is sweet for NadalBy ADAM ZAGORIA
The Sports Xchange
September 10. 2017 11:34PM
NEW YORK — For all the injuries, upsets and withdrawals at this topsy turvy U.S. Open, Rafael Nadal restored some order on Sunday.
The No. 1 seed beat No. 28 Kevin Anderson, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, in 2 hours, 28 minutes to win the men’s championship before 23,000 in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
For Nadal, 31, it was his third U.S. Open title (2010, ’13), his second major of the year after he won the French Open and the 16th Grand Slam title of his career. His arch rival Roger Federer, who lost here in the quarterfinals, remains the all-time men’s leader with 19 majors. With the win, Nadal also solidified his grip on the year-end No. 1 ranking.
Nadal won the title — and its $3.7 million prize money — without facing a top-10 seed during the tournament, the first time that has happened for a men’s champion at a Grand Slam in the Open Era. He improved to 16-7 in Grand Slam finals, while Anderson is 0-1 after reaching his maiden major final.
The win also means Toni Nadal, the player’s uncle and longtime coach, will go out on top as a coach. Toni Nadal is stepping down as Rafael’s traveling coach after this season.
With Nadal’s win here, 52 of the last 56 Grand Slam tournaments have been won by five men: Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka.
Nadal’s return to No. 1 in the world this year included his 10th titles at the French Open and also in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He reached the Australian Open final in January, losing to Federer in five sets, and in the fourth round at Wimbledon, where he fell to Giles Muller by 15-13 in the fifth set.
Anderson, who played college tennis at the University of Illinois and resides in Gulf Stream, Fla., became the first South African man to reach a Grand Slam final since Kevin Curren advanced to the Wimbledon final in 1985.
In the first set against Nadal, Anderson tried to mix things up by serving-and-volleying, but Nadal broke Anderson’s huge serve twice, winning the set on a lovely backhand drop volley winner.
Nadal then broke Anderson in the sixth game of the second set when he approached and smashed a forehand volley winner. On set point, he stroked a forehand crosscourt winner.
In the third set, Nadal broke Anderson immediately in the first game when the South African smacked a forehand long on break point.
On match point, Nadal closed it out with a backhand volley winner.