How Rafael Nadal won his 16th Grand Slam

Kevin Anderson was no match for Rafael Nadal as he stormed to his his 16th Grand Slam title on Sunday. By winning his 3rd US Open, Nadal caps off an incredible comeback year, in which he also won the French Open and reached the final of the Australian Open. But there may still be more to come. 

By Jade du Preez

Shortening the gap between himself and Roger Federer in the Grand Slam history books, Rafael Nadal scored his 16th Grand Slam title of his career at the US Open on Sunday. In true style, the 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 match went as most would expect as Nadal made relatively quick work of South African Kevin Anderson, the 28th seed. The first set was polite, Nadal was apologetic but concise, bringing into play a formidable net game, unlike anything we’ve seen from him before. This would continue on into the second set, but now Nadal meant business – stomping from the net to the baseline with determination between points, firing winners left, right and centre. He was on a mission, and with steely purpose he charged through to the third set.

Anderson tried his hardest, using his booming service game to hold serve, but it was child’s play for Nadal who had had to see off Juan Martin del Potro, the big serving Argentine, to book a place in the final. Anderson’s 6ft 8 frame didn’t seem to scare the Spaniard, who knew by the time he’d made it to the third set, that he had won. His mental strength was obvious as Anderson literally bled to keep up with him, but Nadal did falter in the final stages of the match, rushing his serve and resulting in two championship points in a deuce game needed to secure the deal.

And Anderson used his best weapon – his fastest serve coming in at 136mph, with an average of 118mph – and when that didn’t work he went for the winners, scoring 32 over the entire match. But Nadal was too fresh, he hadn’t faced a single top 20 player in the tournament, so for him these last two weeks have been a walk in the park – only dropping three sets against seven opponents. Whereas, Anderson had an upward battle, defeating Sam Querrey, Pablo Carenno Busta and Borna Coric on this way to the final. Instead, Nadal executed perfect precision at the net, winning all 15 of his net points. Attempting to slide from side to side, it was clear that the Spaniard missed his French Open clay, but tonight was his night on the hard courts of the US Open.

The match lasted two and a half hours, so not exactly a whitewash but not exactly the epic five hour matches of days gone by. Keeping Nadal on court for that long is a feat in itself and making almost $2million in two weeks will take the sting out of the lost for Anderson, but crowds were clearly hoping for another upset, similar to that of the women’s singles final which saw unseeded Sloane Stephens come out on top. They’d decided that fifteen titles were enough, and they wanted an underdog winner, but ultimately Anderson was no match for the sporting brilliance of Rafael Nadal – a true champion and legend of the sport.

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