Was it ever really in doubt? Maybe for a tiny bit when Nadal lost the first set of his semifinal to Del Potro. Maybe for that brief interlude between the first and second sets, it was. After that blip, Nadal won six straight sets on the trot. The reward? A third US Open crown for the one so affectionately called the bull.
This US Open will be remembered not for how open it was, but for how ferociously the second tier players attacked and vanquished the established guard. One by one, the favorites to make something happen at this Open, dropped like flies caught in the blast path of an insecticide spray. Sascha Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, Dominic Thiem, Roger Federer, and a few others were vanquished by far steadier, and hungrier players. As each potential dangerous pit stop was overcome, the whispers grew louder. By the time Nadal defeated Federer’s conqueror, Juan Martin Del Potro, the whispers had turned into full blown coronation shouts.
Rafael Nadal, US Open Champion.
Still, the Spaniard had a job to do. He had to defeat another dangerous opponent looking to end the year’s final slam on what would have been a befitting note for the tournament. If Kevin Anderson had defeated Nadal today in the finals, it would have been the mother of all upsets and most certainly the icing on the cake of an upset filled tournament. However, Nadal, as he has been throughout this tournament, played solidly from start to finish. He never let his intensity drop and shut all possible routes into the final for Kevin Anderson. Rafa perhaps more than anyone else, knows the danger of letting a big man get on a roll. He neutralized Anderson’s power and closed out the match in three very tidy sets.
Finally, he’s consolidated that Number one ranking.