U.S. Open final preview and prediction: Nadal vs. Anderson

Rafael Nadal and Kevin Anderson will be going head-to-head for the fifth time in their careers when they battle for the U.S. Open title on Sunday.

All four of their previous encounters have gone Nadal’s way, and he is 3-0 against Anderson on hard courts. The Spaniard is a commanding 9-1 in total sets, dropping only one in a 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-2 victory at the Paris Masters in 2015. Their only Grand Slam showdown came at the 2015 Australian Open, where Nadal cruised 7-5, 6-1, 6-4. A similarly straightforward affair was the result when the two veterans most recently collided on the red clay of Barcelona this spring, with the current world No. 1 getting the job done 6-3, 6-4.

Nadal and Anderson also faced each other way back at the 1998 Under 12 Junior Masters in Stuttgart, Germany. Prior to their Barcelona contest, Anderson’s wife posted this gem on Twitter.

Almost 20 years later, Nadal is still going strong at 31 years old. In fact, that is an understatement. He is turning in one of his best-ever seasons, with three major final appearances–including this one–and a 10th title at the French Open. Nadal is well on his way to the year-end No. 1 ranking especially if he triumphs on Sunday. Although the 15-time slam champion predictably cooled off after leaving Roland Garros, he is back on track this fortnight with mostly routine defeats of Dusan Lajovic, Taro Daniel, Leonardo Mayer, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Andrey Rublev, and Juan Martin Del Potro.

Anderson has also avoided any five-set drama while taking out J.C. Aragone, Ernests Gulbis, Borna Coric, Paolo Lorenzi, Sam Querrey, and Pablo Carreno Busta. The 32nd-ranked South African did not lose serve a single time through three rounds before getting broken twice by Lorenzi, once by Querrey, and twice by Carreno Busta. This is Anderson’s first-ever appearance in a major final and he had never previously advanced to a semifinal.

“He’s a huge player with an unbelievable serve,” Nadal said of his upcoming adversary. “He had some injuries, so he’s a big example for the kids and for the rest of the tour; he was able to be back and play his best tennis now. I’m happy for him, because I’ve known him since we were 12 years old. It’s great to see him in the final of one of the most important tournaments of the year.”

“Nadal is one of the greatest competitors in sports, period,” Anderson commented. “He’s an amazing fighter. He really controls the court well. I really need to be dominant and control proceedings as much as possible because if you let him do it, it’s very difficult.”

Nobody this fortnight has been able to produce a potent enough combination of offense and consistency to trouble Nadal for more than a set. Anderson has the kind of game that can do it, but he too has never been able to accomplish the feat. It is an especially difficult task, of course, in a Grand Slam championship match.

Nadal, who has been in this situation on 22 previous occasions, should have slam title No. 16 coming his way.

Pick: Nadal in 3

55 Comments on U.S. Open final preview and prediction: Nadal vs. Anderson

  1. Roger you are too funny..I crack up reading your messages 🙂

    But why do I feel you and Stanley are the same person? Same writing style and messages come almost at same time 🙂

  2. Rafa has now made three more nonclay slam finals than French open finals.

    A true great and master of every surfrace despite what biased revisionists would want you to believe.

    Vamos Rafa. GOAT once more.

    I hope NNY Is safe tonight.

    • Hawks!! I’ve missed you! Congrats on your man getting it done! Question though- Can’t you just keep him as the GOAT in your mind without changing it? 😉

        • It was a joke, Hawks. You know where I stand in the GOAT debate- that it’s like splitting hairs and that the Big 3 are the three greatest male tennis players of all-time. Since that is the stance I take, I’ve always enjoyed good-natured pestering those who take a lone-GOAT stance. You’ve explained your reasoning to me before, and I understand it. I just differ in opinion from you, so it amuses me how you switch back and forth between Fed and Rafa being the lone holder of the GOAT title. So then I think- why not just call them the two greatest of all-time? But it’s a rhetorical question because I know your answer to that. You know I just like to stir the pot on the GOAT debate, Hawks. 🙂 I actually don’t disagree with you about one of them being the GOAT- I just think the other guy is equally the GOAT, in their own way.

  3. Even tho i’m very happy for rafa but feel very very worried and nervous about Nny in Florida…Once again if u have the opportunity,please let us know your condition atm Nny!….Can’t wait to hear about u!..Wish u & your family r okay there….

  4. Big up to Kevin Anderson, too. Seriously. He never stood even a remote chance in this one, and we all knew it. But he was not a guy who I ever would have imagined would make a slam final- even from a wide-open draw. To have a silver runner-up plate his mantle for the rest of his life shows, in ny opinion, that he maximized his potential. He could have easily been overwhelmed by the pressure of facing Querrey in front of an American crowd, having never even played on Ashe, as well as in his first slam semi, but he showed poise and composure considering his lack of experience in those moments. Personally, I wouldn’t expect to see him again in a major final, but now he at least has some sort of hardware from the majors. Props to Kev!

  5. Congrats to the beast that is Rafael Nadal!! And congrats to all you Rafans!! This will surely shut up those who think of Nadal as just a clay court specialist. Anyways Fedal won all four slams this season so uhhhhhh, godly season? Yes yes it was.

    • It truly is remarkable, Benny… So you must be fired up for a potential #1 showdown between your boy and Rafa, I presume? In your view, what are the odds of that showdown even happening? Do you expect Fed to get back to normal? Or do you think it’s Rafa all the way?

      • I honestly think Fed at max can gobble up max 3000 points out of 4000 up for grabs. He cant win all 4, he at best will win 3..that too is a big ask..

        So all Rafa needs to do is somwhow win 1300 points more till end of year to assure himself of Year end No 1..And trust me he wants it..he will fight hard for it..he will know all the calcs and what he needs to do..

        • Yes, it is definitely a long-shot for Fed to end this season #1. After Wimbledon, I was certain it would happen. But Rafa stepped up!

      • Well this latter part of the season usually treats Roger better than Rafa but it would still be so tough for Fed to catch up before the world tour finals. I think Roger will win Basel and could win one of the masters so he could close the points gap in the race but Rafa could gain more at the masters as well even though those tournaments haven’t treated him that well in recent years. I think Roger and Rafa will both have a shot at number one heading into the world tour finals but as of right now I give Nadal a 70-75% chance of ending the season number one. I would give him a higher chance if not for his historically poor runs during this stretch of the year.

        • I agree with you, Benny. Advantage Rafa, but Roger has a shot. Fed’s comments after his loss to DelPo about the rest of the season were pretty interesting. He said that he will do Laver Cup, and then “go to Shaghai a week early to start prepare a much as possible so he can win the tournament” (paraphrased a bit). That’s quite a good chunk of rest. Shaghai is the fastest masters court. When Fed lost there in the first round in 2015 as defending champion, he said that it is so fast and slick that he always finds it difficult to adjust to at first. He struggled to adjust in 2014 as well, but he saved those match points instead of losing. 🙂 Anyway, if he practices on that court for a week beforehand, and is healthy, I’m not sure I would pick against him to win that tournament if it’s still as fast as it has been before… Similar to the Open, a lot will depend on his back, as will every other tournament from here on out. But on a court that fast, he will certainly be tough to beat if he’s in good physical shape. Not saying he’s a lock for that title, but his chances should be good. If Rafa can carry his current level onto a fast court, then we could have a good Fedal Shanghai final on our hands. 🙂

          This is all theoretical- If Fed were to manage to win Shaghai and Basel, that’s where things get a little shady in my mind. He would then have to decide if he really wants to gun for #1, or play it safe and put all his eggs in the WTF basket. Given his recent fragility, I personally cannot imagine him winning Shaghai, Basel, AND Paris, all in such close succession. No way. And if he did manage to go very deep in all three of those, then how the hell would he ever have anything left in the tank, or his body, to realistically go in and win the WTF? Not gonna happen, imo. I’ve been wondering about this for months now, actually. If he managed to win Shanghai and Basel, I personally think that he MUST pull out of Paris if he wants a realistic shot at winning a 7th WTF. 4 tournaments in 6 weeks for 36 year old Fed? Just can’t see it… And I’m talking about if his back in fine! Although if his back is still bad during/after Shanghai, then I think he would actually be best to take the whole damn rest of the year off to try to be healthy for AO. I just think that he may have reached that point that all 36 year old players reach, where he can only play like eight tournies a year. I could be wrong! The back thing could be temporary, but the older he gets, the harder it will be to believe it’s only temporary.

          Anyway, Benny, I think that IF Fed’s back issue ends up nursed back to health, then I think your boy has a shot at ending up #1. It’s definitely like a 30% chance at best, but it’s possible, given that at least 3 of these courts suit him quite well. I think it will take him winning Shaghai, Basel, AND WTF to get there, and even then it could entirely depend on how Rafa does. If Rafa goes deep in all of them, even if he doesn’t win any, and Fed doesn’t win at least 2 and go deep in another, then it won’t happen. If I were Roger Federer’s coach, I would tell him to do exactly what he is doing to start- rest for over a month (save for Laver Cup), and then go train at Shaghai and do everything possible to have the best shot at winning it. Then, take that week after Shaghai and rest like sleeping beauty. Pay $5,000,000 for the best damn masseuse in the world and whatever cortisone shots needed to get that back feeling like a 20 year old back. Then go to Basel fresh, and just try to do what you’ve almost always done there when you’re healthy and in good form- win it. Then, take a look at Rafa’s results in Beijing, Shaghai, and Basel. Did he win a couple of them? Did he maybe beat you at one of them? Did you beat him at one of them? Did he go deep in all of them? Or did he lose before the final? After analyzing where Rafa is at, both in form and rankings, then decide if it is an absolute necessity to play Paris in order to end the season at #1. If you conclude that you must play Paris to have a shot at #1, then comes the most important part- decide just how much getting another year end #1 means to you… Is it important enough to you to risk being burned out afterward or hurting your back more? Personally, I would say only play it if you lost pre-finals at Shanghai and Basel. Otherwise, screw it. Get two weeks of rest leading up to WTF, and go into London with the most amount of rest possible.
          And that, Benny, is what I believe must happen in order for Fed to even have a shot at ending #1. In reality, it depends a whoooole lot on how Rafa does the rest of the season. If Rafa really wants to keep #1 til the end, which he unquestionably does, then I would assume he will start by going to Beijing and likely picking up an easy 500 points, as the 50-times Beijing former champion won’t be there, and Rafa is playing well enough that it probably wouldn’t matter anyway. 🙂 That would slap a further 500 points lead over Fed, as Fed isn’t even listing that week, and Rafa isn’t defending any points there.

          • Good analysis. I agree with pretty much all of that. I can see him winning Shanghai and Basel and skipping Paris then trying to claim the WTF to become number one but like you said it all depends on how Rafa does.

            • There’s a Delpo who’s good on quick HCs and he may have something to say at Shanghai, Basel and Paris. Don’t forget he beat Fed at Basel in 2012/2013. If L Mayer could give Fed trouble at Shanghai, so could Delpo. It depends on the draw.

              If Rafa could avoid Delpo at Shanghai, Basel and Paris, he may reach the SFs at these events(he reached SF at Shanghai, final at Basel and QF at Paris in 2015, his worst season so far). Djoko will not be at Beijing this year, so Rafa has a good chance to win there, being a finalist there a few times. I do hope he wins Beijing, which is also a quick court, and so will be prepared for Shanghai’s fast HC.

              I think Rafa is on track to get the YE no.1, its highly likely he’ll get it this season.

          • Kevin, even Fed is to win all four events, he may not get to YE no.1! He will get 4000 points max, but Rafa is already with 1860 pts ahead; Rafa just needs to go deep in all events (SF at least which he’s more than capable of doing) and winning Beijing, and reaching final at WTF (which he’s capable of doing; in his good years of 2010 and 2013 he reached the final even with the presence of Murray and Djoko, both of them not around this WTF).

            I doubt Rafa will let this chance of YE no.1 slips away, he’ll play his best to get there; the most important thing is of course he being healthy and fit, which I think he is now.

  6. Barb Dignan‏ @barbdignan 22m22 minutes ago

    This ferocious beast on the tennis court is the sweetest human off the court. He is GREAT for tennis!!!! #VamosRafaNadal!!!!

    Matt Cronin‏ @TennisReporters 6m6 minutes ago
    More
    Rafa Nadal has improved tremendous amount this yr, better, smarter, wins US Open over Anderson. Now has won 16 Slams, even more? Possibility

    @SteveTignor

    Never underestimate the heart—I mean, the unorthodox tactics—of a champ. Nadal’s ultra-deep return position got him all the breaks he needed

  7. 3 major slam finals this year were so lopsided…not good..it is not Fedals fault but seriously what horrible finals.

    Looks like all the great matches amongst top players happened in Australia itself. There were atleast 5 great matches in AO.
    Rafa Fed
    Rafa Dimitrov
    Fed stan
    Fed nishikori
    Rafa Alexander zverev

    French all I feel was a thriller was Stan Murray semi

    Wimby – NONE

    USO – NONE (I dont count those Fed 5 setters as top quality..they were too up n down and so was Fed delpo)

    • Yes, the last three majors were strictly fun for fans of Fed or fans of Rafa. 🙂 Australia certainly had the most exciting storylines and matchups. French and Wimby were enjoyable for me, personally, because I got to see that vintage Rafa-FO and Fed-Wimby destruction that I previously didn’t think we would ever see again.

      As far as the best matches this season, thus far anyway, I would say that the two best matches were Rafa-Dimitrov AO, and Fed-Kyrgios Miami. Fed-Rafa AO 5th set was probably the best single set or moment overall for me (although many Rafa fans understandably wouldn’t agree with that). In terms of just pure beautiful tennis and perfection, Rafa in the FO final against Stan and Fed at AO against Berdych were such a treat for me. I actually went back and watched those two matches recently, and they were just jaw-dropping. They were especially great because a lot of people expected those matches to be closer than they were. A lot of people thought Fed would go out to Berdych because he had just returned from injury and he looked rusty in his first two matches. And some people thought Stan would at least give Rafa a run for his money because, well, Stan in a major final. Yet both of Fedal proved in those matches that they are still very much at the top of their game.

      I really hope that we get some interesting matches in the rest of the season. This remaining portion of the season can sometimes be a dud, but it always has potential. If Fed doesn’t get back to form, I’m not really sure who could realistically challenge Rafa, even at the indoor tournies. I expect Rafa to take this confidence and form to Beijing and just destroy all the chumps in that draw. That will give him even more distance over Fed in the rankings, as Fed isn’t playing in Beijing. I would looove to see a Fedal final in Shanghai, but who knows where people will be at when that comes…

      • I meant tsan-Murray was a high quality than Fed-Delpo at USO . You should revisit that match again where Murray won one game only and was throwing tantrums all over.

        • I think the first 4 sets of stan murray match were very good and tight. I personally found it way better than Fed delpo. Murray only faded in 5th.

  8. Juan M. del Potro‏Verified account @delpotrojuan
    Felicitaciones @RafaelNadal! Merecido campeón. ?

    Juan Monaco‏Verified account @picomonaco
    Q grande sos @rafaelnadal ? ? #usopen .
    Sos un gran ejemplo para todos ! Mejor persona que… https://www.instagram.com/p/BY4OPzGlfM3/

    Pico has clicked a selfie of him with Rafa on TV 🙂

  9. Rafa a clay court specialist has more USO titles than Novak who is a HC specialist 🙂

    However Novak lost 5 USO fianls which is a lot considering his HC talent and skills..2 to Rafa, 1 to Fed, 1 to Murray, 1 to Stan

    • Why must we refer to any of the Big 3 as specialists? They all have been to many finals of all four slams! If Djokovic is a “hardcourt specialist”, then I’m a Monkey’s uncle! Same with calling Rafa a clay specialist- it’s just insanely untrue!

  10. I honestly feel with this win and 16 slams, Rafa has clearly put himself much ahead of Novak..just last year everyone was saying Novak will easily catch Rafas 14 when he was at 12…and its matter of time..How times change…

    Novak will come back strong..but 4 more slams ..am not sure..and Rafa is not done yet.

    I desperately want Rafa to win Australian Open next year and be the only double career slam holder..just 2 more asks of Rafa I have..year end No 1 this year and AO 18 trophy..

  11. Congrats to Rafa for winning Grand Slam #16. He dominated the match from start to end. He didn’t even face a break point in the whole entire match! Congrats to Sloane who only lost three games in the whole match! It was interesting that there were four different woman who won the slams this year. Maybe because of Serena? However, in the men’s side, the four slams went to Nadal and Federer. In other news, Gasquet is playing in a challenger! The last time he played in a challenger was in 2010, and that was right after he was banned from tennis for two months. He is probably playing in a challenger to regain his confidence from a first round loss.

    • I know right I saw that. Also at a challenger last week the seventeen year old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime lost one game to Taro Daniel, the guy who took a set off Nadal somehow. And Auger-Aliassime went on to win his second challenger title. He and Shapovalov are gonna be insane

    • On the subject I did read an interesting stat the other day. Since Rafa won his first slam he and Roger had both won 15 – well – Rafa has now won 16 since then. The total will depend on who can be healthier, I guess. And whether someone can step up and provide competition at the majors.

      I’d really, really love to see Rafa finally win the AO one more time too. Darn it, AO owes him one! He’s played so well there over the years and been SO unlucky there.

      That said, the GOAT debate does not interest me. Rafa and Fed are both legends, renowned for their dedication and excellence, and their names will be forever linked. Works for me.

  12. Mats had a good point about none of these other players being able to hurt Rafa on a slow hard court. It makes sense! Rafa is just like a bulldozer where you have to be able to hit through him to beat him. If it’s a slow hard court, he’s going to crush you. It’s really not surprising to me that Federer won the AO on that super-fast hardcourt, and Rafa won the US Open on a comparatively slow hardcourt. Personally, I kind of like the idea of having one of the hardcourt majors be slow, and the other be fast. It’s way more interesting than having them all homogenized like it was for years…

  13. Just saw the match. Congrats to Rafa and his fans on a well-deserved USO title. Rafa played an absolutely fantastic match; didn’t give Anderson even a look in. I was wrong about Nadal: at the start of the year, and even a month ago, I didn’t think he’d win another slam off clay. Well done.

  14. Thanks Joe for the congrats!…Guess what??me too didn’t dare to dream much…but Thank God!i think with this win,Rafa already killed some of his demon of the last 2 years especially outside of clay…

  15. Rafa delivered on my birthday – today, 11th September. I am sooooooo happy. I knew Rafa’s troubles were down to his injuries even though some people thought he was finished.

    Vamos Rafa!

  16. HB Nadline… Sept 11 of all dates
    Congrats to Rafa for his 16th, nice to see him healthy.
    One has to feel for Anderson though cause he’s such a nice guy too.. hope he can win a SLAM on day too. (but not against Rafa :))

    • Last night i thought that R. Nadal won the US OPEN title i.e 16 Slams, but when i woke up this morning i realized that it was just a dream and the match hasn’t been played.

      So what time does the final match start?
      And who do you think will win it?

        • Mira,

          I wished you and R. Nadal the best(in WTA page) when he lost Australian Open, Acapulco etc, but now i regret it lol! I am a little jealous, R. Nadal is balling BIG time and someone needs to stop him b4 it’s too late, ASAP.

          I miss Novak, A. Murray, Wawrinka etc and if Rafito is not stopped now he could steal all our trophies and that’s not good 4 tennis don’ you think?

          Please wish someone else the best just as i did 4 Rafa ok, i know it might be hard for you but please do it, remember i did the same 4 U.

          #Paybacktime

    • I wish the same, cos there are many Roger’s in this world.
      There is just one RF(R. Federer) and he is THE best tennis player and the best player this year(this might change because the year ain’t over but he is still the best).

      You can’t edit or correct your comment again lol! You said Roger not RF, so thanks.

      Congrats on Rafito! I heard he has an injury and might not play in 2018 and the rest of the year.
      I hope recovers soon cos R. Federer needs 2 crush someone again.

      #4

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