By Mary Cunningham
Let’s face facts, as they say in another court:
This United States Open was Rafael Nadal’s to lose.
When Nadal’s famed rival, Roger Federer, was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Juan Martin del Potro, wrecking another chance for a Nadal vs. Federer match to happen in Queens, all the rest of the last Grand Slam of 2017 was colored bubbles.
Nadal, at 31, won the Open men’s singles title yesterday, giving the Spaniard 16 Grand Slams and an airtight case as one of tennis’s all-time greatest.
Nadal stomped on South African Kevin Anderson in straights, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.
And it wasn’t that close.
Nadal handled Anderson the way he pretty much handled everyone during this tournament: respectfully, but mercilessly. Anderson, 31, played the best tennis of his career to reach the final, and though his height and powerful serve forced Nadal to make adjustments on his return—Nadal parked himself so far behind the baseline, he was basically in Connecticut—it seemed like only a matter of time before a break happened, and Rafa began rolling.
“It’s just unbelievable what happened this year,” a happy Nadal said at the trophy ceremony.
The 2017 Slam season is now in the books, and it’s an even split between Rafa and Roger.
From Australia on, where they tangled magnificently for five sets in the final, the whole year felt eery.
And now Federer ends 2017 with the Aussie and Wimbledon titles, and Nadal with the French and the American.
Makes 2018 that much more exciting in anticipation.