Rafael Nadal made it 16 slams, 3 behind Roger Federer, with an easy straight sets win over Kevin Anderson, 6-3 6-3 6-4. It wasn’t really all that competitive although Anderson played tough to ensure he did not embarrass himself in his first grand slam final.
Nadal applied pressure from the beginning, taking Anderson to deuce in 2 of the first 3 service games before eventually breaking for a 4-3 lead. It was all he needed for the first set, but he did close out the set with another break to allow him to serve first in the second set. Chasing Nadal from the get go left Anderson under pressure each time while Nadal was holding with ease. A single break in each of the final 2 sets was enough for Nadal to ease to victory as Anderson was getting nothing on return.
Alongside the 0 break points faced on serve and 79% of points won on it, Nadal also put up a impressive 30 winners to just 11 unforced errors – the +19 ratio besting Anderson’s -18 by some distance. After a slow start at the tournament, Nadal played himself into some incredible form in the second week. The loss of just 1 set to Del Potro, Rublev and Anderson was backed by him almost being almost unbreakable alongside some great returning.
” it’s definitely a few emotions and experiences I’m going to take from this whole two weeks. I mean, obviously very pleased of making my way through to the finals and having that experience. I mean, a few players, you know, get that chance. It’s very tough. To step out on court against Rafa tonight, you know, I learned a lot of lessons. It was a difficult match, up against somebody who has been on that stage over 20 times before.” Anderson said afterwards. The South African had never made a quarter final of a slam previously so to make it this far is an achievement in itself. While his draw was not a murderers row, it’s fair to say he has achieved what many fail to do by competently navigating a broken down draw to make the final.
“There is no better way to finish the Grand Slam season for me after a very emotional season in all aspects.” Nadal said post-match. When Federer extended his lead back to 4 slams at Wimbledon and was favourite to win in New York, it seemed like Federer’s 19 would be hard to match. A few months later and Nadal is 3 behind once more. It’s still unlikely he’ll match or beat the current record but Nadal continues to astound. If he was successful in Melbourne to start 2018, it would make things interesting although one would expect that Murray and Djokovic will not have disaster years like they have done in 2017.