A Snippet of the US Open Final: –
Rafael Nadal has done it again this year. The Spaniard has now won his 3rd US Open title and 16th Grand Slam overall. He is just 3 behind Federer’s all-time record of 19 Grand Slams. In context, the match vs Anderson wasn’t a two-sided affair but the way Rafa defended his opponent’s serve and held his own was very typical of him. Two Grand Slams in a year is some achievement for a player who struggled late last year.
Nadal went into this match having a 4-0 lead against Anderson in previous games. So, the Protea who was playing his first ever Grand Slam final had to be at his best to come close to deny the inevitable happening. But, Nadal was way better and didn’t take much time settling in the biggest stage. He lost as less as 15 points without giving a break point away and winning all 16 points at the net.
Anderson, 31, who was tournament’s leading ace hitter had to depend on his service game. That was not a good sign for him as Nadal is one of the best when it comes to defending against the serve and grinding his opponents. Anderson had to play up to 9 minute-long games to hold his serve very early in the first set. This meant Nadal had the control required to break the serve soon.
The break eventually came at 3-3 when Anderson began to look a bit rugged. Nadal took that break and held his serve expertly which he has been doing throughout this slam. The Spaniard, despite hitting a low percentage of the first serve was able to win points from his second serves.
The second set pretty much followed the same pattern as in first. Nadal breaking down Anderson’s serve and holding his own at all times. It never looked like the Protea would even get close to break his opponent’s serve. Dependency on the service proved to be a bad idea in the end. The defensive skills and backhand of the highest order is something Nadal has which is just unbreakable at times.
It was understood that longer the game, more is the chance of Anderson tying down. Taking 8 to 9 minutes to hold his serve very early in the first set made it easy for Nadal in the longer run. It allowed the Spaniard to be focused on his own serve and wait for the mistakes from his opponent.
The stats regarding aces and unforced errors clearly shows the difference between these men. Anderson led the aces section with 10-1 but the unforced errors committed by him were 40 compared to Nadal’s 11. This is where the huge chunk of the game was won and lost. At one end, the world no 1 kept it tight playing within the court while his opponent tried to move up and down the court to keep the game short and be more proactive. This backfired on him with Nadal being ultra-controlled in his approach.
Nadal stood five metres behind the baseline while reading the serves from Anderson to nullify his ace counts. This allowed the world no 1 to respond to most of the serves and while the rally increased, chances of point winning increased for him.
This is something special done by Nadal winning a hard court and clay tournament in one year. This also ensures that he will be the world no 1 at the end of 2017, some achievement for a guy who struggled with injuries and problems last year. Remarkably, Nadal and Federer have shared the Grand Slam titles this year bearing in mind that last year both men were just fit enough to play soft tennis.