Third time is a charm: Nadal triumphs again at U.S. Open

Seven years ago, the U.S. Open was the final piece of the puzzle that Rafael Nadal needed to complete the career Grand Slam. Some wondered if he would ever do it. Once at most, right? Maybe two if lucky?

How about three?

Nadal triumphed in New York for the third time on Sunday, lifting the trophy once again thanks to a commanding 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Kevin Anderson. The Spaniard did not face a single break point while rolling to his 16th slam title in two hours and 27 minutes. Nadal used unusually effective and deep returns to break Anderson four times and he almost kept up with the 6’8” South African in the department of winners (32 to 30 in Anderson’s favor). The top seed also committed a mere 11 unforced errors, whereas 40 mistakes came off the world No. 32’s racket.


“(It has) been a great two weeks,” Nadal reflected, “increasing (my) level of tennis, increasing [in] confidence during that two weeks. I have this trophy with me again here in New York; means a lot to me. There is no better way to finish the Grand Slam season for me after a very emotional season in all aspects.

“(I’m) very happy the way that I played–happy the way that I managed the pressure and the way that I was competing during the whole event.”

Nadal’s only real trouble throughout the duration of the fortnight came in the form of slow starts in week one–most notably against Taro Daniel and Leonardo Mayer. He also surrendered the first set to Juan Martin Del Potro in the semifinals, although that was less surprising.

But there was no such struggle in the championship match. Nadal stormed out of the gates in blistering fashion, pushing Anderson to deuce in all five of his first-set return games while managing to break at 3-3 and 5-3. A break at 3-2 in the second and another one to begin the third were easily enough for Nadal to soar across the finish line.

“I think I played the right match,” the champion explained. “I put a lot of balls in. I let him play all the time, and that was my goal–to try to have long rallies, to try to have long points, because he will try to play short (ones). If the ball is going over the net couple of times helps, because he gets more tired. He’s taller. His movements are a little bit worse than my ones. That was the goal for me, to take advantage and try to move him.”

If Nadal had an edge in movement, he enjoyed an ever more significant advantage in experience. It was his 23rd major final, whereas Anderson was competing in his first. The underdog had previously advanced to just one Grand Slam quarterfinal.

“Obviously (I’m) very pleased of making my way through to the finals and having that experience,” Anderson commented. “(Only) a few players get that chance. It’s very tough. To step out on court against Rafa, I learned a lot of lessons. It was a difficult match, up against somebody who has been on that stage over 20 times before.”

From the looks of things, make that 23 times and counting.

121 Comments on Third time is a charm: Nadal triumphs again at U.S. Open

    • Congrats to all Rafafans – and to all Fedal Fans, since this Alan season was undiluted Fedal domination.
      Along the way Rafa didn’t only vanquish the powerful Tignor curse – no, he also overcame the pink curse, which had been in place ever since he lost to Soderling at RG ’09 πŸ™‚
      Congrats to the Pink Panther!

      • It might’ve helped, though, that his night match gear reduced the pink to the bright shoes, lol! And arguably he produced his very best tennis in his intimidating black gear πŸ˜‰

  1. Congrats to Rafa! No.16th slam and more to come possibly and probably!

    So happy for Rafa and we his fans! It’s a rewarding USO this year, Rafa getting to 16 slams and adding more race points and holding on to the no.1 ranking, distancing himself from Fed a little bit more.

    Vamos Rafa! May your good form continue and go get the YE no.1, hopefully winning the WTF championship along the way.

    • You may be right, but he won’t do that. I think he wants to secure the year-end pole position now. And his best chance are the outdoor tournaments.

      • May I add a sentiment expressed elsewhere? The AO were a sizzler of a slam – the other three were only enjoyable for Fedal fans, lol! Otherwise they were a dud πŸ™ Sure, the eventual winners showcased their skills impressively. But the rest of the field failed didn’t show up or failed to impress…

        • Yep, losing at Montreal/Cincy didn’t matter as long as he won USO. He had played 58 matches already, prior to USO, that’s a lot of matches for his 31 yo body! I’m glad he wasn’t extended to four or five hours during his matches, unlike at the AO.

          In 2013 he had played two fewer matches, and 63 after he won USO that year, and he was already feeling the physical strain come the Asian swing. I do hope that he’s in better shape this time if he’s playing the Asian swing.

          I do notice that other than at the AO, he wasn’t really pushed physically during his matches, except that R4 match at Wimbledon, so hopefully that bode well for his remaining HC events.

          • BTW, Steve Tignor had finally written one really good article, about Rafa on his USO title win. One thing interesting in the article was that of Rafa’s ‘unorthodox’ ROS position from so far behind the baseline.

            We often criticize Rafa for standing so far back on non clay surfaces to return serves, but this time against Anderson, and to a certain extent against Delpo, Rafa was really very effective in returning their huge serves. Anderson said as much, that Rafa was able to neutralize his big serves. I think Rafa’s return positions from so far back was a tactical decision, as he chose to take aggressive big swipes on his returns aiming to make it tough for his opponent to handle them. He certainly didn’t want to block back the returns and allowed his opponent getting his hands on them. Rafa’s tactics against Anderson did pay off, giving Anderson plenty of problems from his first service game to the last.

            I think such a tactic won’t work against a server like Fed, who tends to rush to the net once he sees a short return, but I do trust that Rafa will be employing different return tactics facing a player like Fed, or a net rusher/ S&V player.

            • Yes, Ana excellent piece by Tiggy, did justice to Uncle Toni’s influence as well.

              Am so happy Rafa gave Uncle T a fitting farewell. As Tiggy said, Rafa and Uncle Toni is the greatest Player-Coach combination tennis has ever seen.

              Carlos MoyΓ  has big shoes to fill, first test, AO’18!

              Congratulations Rafa and Rafans, bellissimo……….

            • Fed comes to the net a lot more, sometimes on second serve, he is better volleyer than Anderson. But against Fed, Rafa sometimes does not stand that back.

              I think that strategy works best with DelPo because he will never come in.

              Overall against Anderson, I think he played a very very smart match . Dispatch a big server like him in 3 easy sets, holding serve so easily, 30 winners to 11 UE, it was a very very solid performance.

            • @augusta008 at 6:02PM, yes I saw that, it was very thoughtful of the French Tennis Federation. They also gave Uncle T a miniature RG trophy. I heard John MacEnroe say the French had started a tradition of giving the winning coach a trophy, did the USOPEN give Uncle T a trophy too? This would be super cool. I think it would give the coaches extra motivation…….

            • @ fedexal, you cannot put Fed in the same sentence as Anderson where volleying is concerned, Anderson is a joke in is department! That part of Anderson’s game was exposed and it was embarrassing to watch. He has a lot of work to do in that department.

            • RITB 3.0 (AT 6:10 PM)
              I don’t know anything about a miniature RG trophy Toni received according to McEnroe.

              Toni was asked to take part in the trophy ceremony and present Rafa with a full-size replica trophy with all 10 of his FO titles engraved. Players normally get a small replica trophy to take home.

              Toni holds the official trophy and Rafa – the full-size replica trophy:

              When Toni left the ceremony, he took the full-size replica trophy with him. It’s now at Rafa’s museum in Mallorca.

            • RITB 3.0 says AT 6:10 PM: “…did the USOPEN give Uncle T a trophy too? This would be super cool…”

              Yes, they gave! πŸ™‚

              US Open IG: “Gordon Smith presented Uncle Toni Nadal with the US Open Coach’s Award recognizing the contribution he has made in helping Rafael Nadal capture the 2017 men’s title! Bravo” ?


              (Two boys in the picture are Toni’s sons)

            • Thanks @augusta008! Lovely pics. I think there was a mix-up on what actually transpired at RG regarding Toni and the trophy ceremony. I was under the impression Toni was given his own trophy in recognition of the role he played in Rafa’s La Decima. It appears I was not the only one with this impression. If indeed this is the case it’s a good mistake!

              Good of USOPEN to recognize Toni. I hope this “tradition” gains traction and we see coaches being recognized for their charges’ success. I think it’s only fair.

        • Ramada, yes, and he’s healthy. Heck, his American summer hardcourt swing really wasn’t too taxing. At Montreal and Cinci he hardly played, lol, and he didn’t have a gruelling match at all at the US Open. Maybe, it was a blessing in disguise that he didn’t make much of an impact at the masters. The coveted prize was the US Open trophy after all.
          Now, he can relax and enjoy the rest of the season.

    • I don’t think he should skip tournaments for the sake of it. He needs points in the 2nd half of the season so if things go pear shaped in the 1st half next year, he’s got some back-up. This is why Andy has kept his high ranking because he won so much in the 2nd half of last year so the fact that he’s sucked, so far, all year hasn’t mattered so much.

      • But he won’t below rank 2. And after that how does it matter , if he is seeded 1 or 2 in terms of draws. Anyway next year we are going to have random draws with Murray, Nole and Wawa ranking going down the drain. Seeding would hardly have an impact.

  2. Anderson is a tougher opponent for Rafa than Stan. He played well, but his movement is awkward just like Delpo’s. Their height gives them a serve advantage but a disadvantage in mobility around the court.

  3. Now that Rafa has won No 16, let us hear what each of the Rafans want him to do that is topmost on their mind/wish list?

    My wishlist
    Year end No 1 2017
    WTF 2017

    My reasons:
    AO 18 will make him only double career slam holder
    WTF will be a good title to have on indoor, he has never won it
    year end no 1 will make him year end 4 times, tie with djokovic and 1 less than Fed and will also help him maybe touch the 200 weeks as No 1 by mid next year if he wins AO.

    • Sanju, you made a nice wishlist. Personally I really would enjoy most another AO title. And those goals are certainly not impossible for Rafa. I think, the WTF trophy is most difficult but definitely within reach because Novak and Andy won’t be there – and who knows how Fed’s back will hold up. If Rafa himself stays healthy, this year might be finally his turn. But since it’s a best of three format it’s still difficult. Besides Fed Zverev might be a dangerous contender.

      • Sanju, how was the frazzling? Rafa and Anderson spared the more nervous Rafafans, lol!
        But still, I prefered to sleep through in order to wake up to the good news πŸ™‚
        The whole match is at YouTube btw. I prefer the original comments from J Mc and his sidekick anyway. I don’t like the German Eurosport comments.

        • I tried to sleep..I just didnt get sleep..So i woke up and mustered the courage to put on the TV after 2 hours..Rafa was up 2 sets by then and 3 1 up in 3rd. I saw the final 6 games as I wanted to see the winning moment πŸ™‚ The last game was nervy..Rafa himself was very nervous serving it out πŸ™‚

      • I’m with you, littlefoot- this is probably the best year for Rafa to capitalize on the WTF! I also agree that WTF could be a major stomping grounds for Zverev, as not only does his game fit that court well, but it’s also not a major! πŸ™‚ At this point, at any big tournament that is best-of-3 sets, Zverev is as much a favorite as Fedal imo.

  4. I watched it all, speeches included, think I went to be around 02:00 AM
    …..knackered today at work….. but so worth it.
    Kept thinking if Anderson broke serve I would call it a night but he didn’t even get a whiff at a break point…

  5. I am about to leave NY…This was unique experience I will never forget! To be at the Arthur Ashe and watch Rafa win his Sweet 16 is a dream come true. I am so proud of our Rafa!

    Rafa played great match! Kevin tried to be agressive but ended up neutralized by Rafa’s defense and contra aggression. I disagree that Kevin offered no resistance: he did what he could, he hit some huge winners but Rafa in this mode was simply unstoppable. That’s way Kevin looked helpless out there.

    I want to join in making a wish list: I think WTF is realistic given the weak competition. I wish Rafa wins AO ( I simply know he will win one more AO, I dreamed about it ?) And I certainly hope for one or two more RGs.

    Vamos Rafa! You made us all so happy and so proud!

    • Lucky you Nats; so happy for you, that Rafa didn’t disappoint you and you ended up having a memorable USO experience witnessing Rafa winning the title and holding up the trophy!

    • Natashao- I truly believe that your wish will come true for Rafa to win another AO. πŸ™‚ As long as he keeps showing up in Melbourne every year and going deep, it will happen for him eventually! Assuming that Novak/Andy/Stan aren’t immediately in title-winning form for AO 2018, I think that next year’s AO could be one of Rafa’s best chances at it. I mean, it’s obviously hard to imagine a better chance than being up 4-2 in the fifth, but being so close would only serve to motivate him more! If we are lucky, we will get another Fedal final. What a storyline that would be!

      Overall, the most exciting part about Rafa’s US Open title was seeing him playing vintage Rafa hardcourt tennis in those last couple matches. It’s such a beautiful site to see when he has that confidence. πŸ™‚ It really was a miraculous turnaround for him. When I was at Ashe last week and I watched his match against Mayer, I can’t lie- I couldn’t imagine, at that time, Rafa finding that form he found toward the end of the tournament. But he dug extremely deep and found that form we all knew he was capable of recapturing. Even if he wasn’t playing that well at that moment, I’m so grateful that I got to see a Rafa match at a tournament where he went on to capture the title… Not many people can say they have witnessed that. πŸ™‚ When I’m an elderly man living in a nursing home 50 years from now, I can say “Remember when Rafael Nadal won the US Open back in ’17? Well, I was there!” πŸ™‚

      As for the WTF, this year could very well be the best opportunity for Rafa to win it. Traditionally the court at the o2 have been relatively slow, so the indoor factor shouldn’t be as big of an issue for Rafa there. I don’t take sides in the world of Fedal, so all I hope for is a WTF showdown between Fedal. πŸ™‚

      • kevin..I Dont think courts at London WTF are slow. They bounce very low which is major issue for Rafa..he cannot unleash his FH with full force because of the bounce. In Moya we trust :-). I hope he comes with a good strategy.

        • Yeah you’re right, Sanju, that the low bounce is really what hurts Rafa the most indoors. I just have read many times over the years that as far as indoor tournaments go, the o2 is relatively slow, similar to Paris-Bercy. I think the o2 does fluctuate from year to year, but I’m pretty sure that it is typically considered a medium-slow hardcourt. Who knows- maybe this could also be the year that Rafa gets Shanghai and/or Paris? He would join Fed and my main main Agassi in the Roland Garros/Paris-Bercy double club. πŸ™‚

    • it the same 2012 dream you talking about or you dreamt about it again? :-)..remember you spoke about the dream at night just before AO 12 final against novak?

  6. Oh irony, thy name is the ATP. Rafa, the oft injured, oft listless-in-second-half-of-the-season player is the one left standing of the Big 4………….

    • I just hope he skips Chinese swing. Beijing is a shit tourney with no points. I will even say Shanghai is not that important as well. Take 40 days break and comeback for indoors and target WTF. He really ahs a good chance o beat anyone there.

  7. Rafa’s US Open triumph got me thinking back to the younger days of Rafa and Fed. People usually talk about the stranglehold that the Big 4 has had in the game. However, to me it is even more unbelievable how just TWO guys won TWENTY-FIVE out of THIRTY major titles from June 2003 until 2011… It’s just astounding. Think about all the great tennis players who couldn’t even get a sniff at a major title because those two guys were such a massive cut above the rest! Only Roddick, Gaudio, Safin, Djokovic, and Del Potro managed to squeeze in one title each during 7 1/2 seasons. And it’s even more impressive if you start from the time Rafa won his first major- then it’s only TWO titles that non-Fedal managed to win!! It’s just unthinkable… If you went back in time and told all the great players in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s that only two players would win all but 2 major titles over 5 1/2 seasons during the 2000’s, they would probably laugh in your face! Sampras’ relative dominance in the 1990’s would have surprised them, let alone Fedal’s! πŸ™‚

    • Kevin and Ramada, these stats are indeed mindboggling. But this stranglehold in the big titles is IMO also partly responsible for the failure of the next generation. How can they have developed a healthy motivation for putting in miles and more? They knew (know) full well that one of the superstars would (will) get them in the end. My pet theory is that the superstars who endlessly entertained and fascinated us, also left a bit of scorched earth behind.

      • Disagree. Fed’s early stranglehood didn’t keep Rafa from becoming a huge champion in his own right. Fed and Rafa’s DUAL dominance didn’t keep Djokovic from breaking through and having years of dominance, and the three of them may have hindered Murray but he’s also had a great career. I’d say the injuries (especially his wrists) are the ONLY thing that kept Delpo out of the conversation for most of his career.

        Fact is, usually you get one or two dominant players. We’ve had three plus Murray, who was good enough to get a knighthood in addition to 3 majors, several masters, 2 olympic golds and Davis Cup.

        Cream rises to the top. I don’t think Nadal has been particularly worried about who’s in front of him or who’s coming up behind. His focus has always been on being the very best he can be. Andy’s been the same. Djokovic saw the top, said “I’ve got to get better” and did so. Federer, too. He lost his number one to Rafa – and I’m sure it hurt – but he didn’t rest on his laurels. He kept right on going. He’s STILL going. He, too, wants to be the best he can be. At 36. It’s incredible. Rafa does it for the love of competing. Roger does it for the love of tennis. Novak did it for the love of winning. Andy’s another fierce competitor.

  8. Even more astonishing if you throw in the YEC and masters. I once went back and looked up Guga Kuerten’s record for some reason. The year he finished #1 he’d won RG and the YEC, plus one masters I think. Maybe a few smaller tournaments, and I thought, that’s a year end number one season?? Add in that the Big Four had to go through each other to win anything! Their “bad” years would mark the highlight year of most players’ careers. That’s how good they’ve been.

  9. This feels sweeter than winning RG for the 10 th time, simply because its a HC GS, hopefully we can now put to bed the notion that hes 1 dimensional, and can only win on clay, once and for all ….

    • I think that notion was put to bed for anyone with a functioning brain when he won on grass and hardcourt years ago. πŸ™‚ Only blatant Rafa-haters try to claim that Rafa can only play on clay. Calling someone who has won the career Grand Slam a “specialist” is a total contradiction. I eat all types of food. If someone called me a picky eater because I happen to eat one type of food more frequently than other foods, that person would be categorically false. πŸ™‚ It’s like some people expect players to have perfectly equal results across all surfaces/tournaments. Rafa happens to have his best results on clay. Federer happens to have his best results on hard courts. Even the tournaments they have each won the least, they have made the final of those tournaments numerous times. NOT specialists! Right Alison?! πŸ™‚

      • Kevin, very true! As I said elsewhere, people would hesitate to call Rafa a mere claycourter if he had won less RG trophies but the same amount of grass/hardcourt titles. So, the insane amount of claycourt trophies seems to hurt his reputation somewhat.

        • I hear what you’re saying, littlefoot. Even though it is absurd for someone to suggest that Rafa is a one-surface pony, he is also unquestionably the greatest tennis player, men’s or women’s, on a single surface. Because he’s been so untouchable on clay for much of his career, I suppose it is only natural that the clay part of his career is naturally going to dominate the narrative his legacy. It really is a shame, though, because even in terms of non-clay major titles won, (as someone else on here mentioned before) he has won as many Hard/Grass majors as Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg! If he wins at least one more, he will have as many non-clay majors as Andre Agassi! That is incredible, not to mention all the finals he made where the other guy just was better on that day.

          If anyone is going to use the phrase “clay specialist” in relation to Rafa, it should be when discussing how this was a guy who for some time earlier in his career was not a seasoned non-clay player, but he BECAME ONE haha! That’s one of the most amazing things about him, imo- that he had to learn how to contend for majors outside of Roland Garros, and through sheer talent, tennis IQ, and competitive drive he developed himself into an all-court winner! I honestly feel like that is a part of his legacy that doesn’t get discussed enough. When he essentially swept the clay season in 2005, I’m not so sure if there were many people who would have pegged him as a future great on grass. People were so used to guys who were amazing in clay not being able to even figure out how to stand on a grass court (Borg aside). But Rafa went and completely smashed that stereotype into a million pieces, making the Wimby final for the next 5 years that he played it, with 2 titles, including an epic defeat of arguably the greatest grass court player of all-time! I think it’s very underrated how hard Rafa had to work to eventually hold that Wimbledon trophy in 2008. I mean, can you imagine how uncomfortable it must have felt for a barely 17 year old kid from Spain, who has developed his game on a clay court, to step on the grass at Wimbledon for the first time? To go from that to three years later making the final, including skipping 2004, is just insane. The guy has to be the most determined, dedicated, driven athlete ever to be able to do that. The level of natural-born talent and athleticism required to have the career Rafa has had is just unfathomable for me.

          • Kevin, well said! The narrative of Rafa’s ever increasing ability to succeed on surfaces other than clay is indeed not given enough credit. It’s also very unique.
            I dug up an old article from 2005 from Tignor for Slate. He actually predicted that Rafa would eventually become successful on grass. He reasoned that Rafa was very dedicated to learning new stuff and that underneath all the youthful bravado he displayed back then, he was clever and crafty and did the right move 9 out of 10 times.

          • Kevin, ma I say that I enjoy your comments immensely? You are very eloquent. And please continue to cheer for Fed as well. Personally I respect Fed’s incredible prowess, but I don’t like his personality. But that’s totally subjective. Your heart is apparently bigger than mine πŸ˜‰ This season must be very enjoyable for you

  10. What a great champion this guy is! I thought he played the final brilliantly.

    I have NEVER criticized rafa for his deep ROS positioning. I always say, it is naive to think a player can’t play aggressively if he is standing deep behind the baseline to return. Sure, it is never a good idea to adopt a very deep ROS position against players who rush the net too often or are great at hitting big strokes from both wings, but, that is what makes Rafa unique. He can adapt within matches! Rafa can still play very aggressively in rallies even when standing far back in the court to return. He can step in to return serves when needed so he adapts well within matches.

    I thought he really frustrated Anderson. Imagine when guy so accustomed to winning free points on serve was getting SO MANY returns back would feel? He was surely rattled. At the end of the first set, Rafa had returned a higher % of Anderson’s first serves than the South African had return his first serves!! this was a sick stat! Rafa got into head and was standing there like a wall- fully knowing and understanding the limitations in Anderson’s game.

    #16 was very sweet. I think he will end the year as no.1 without too much trouble.

    Just end the year injury free and you’ll have an excellent chance to win AO 18, Rafa. VAMOS!

    • History is not any indication but whenever Rafa won uso he got injured in next AO but won the French thereafter.
      Uso 10 won but got injured ao 11 in qf against ferrer and lost the match. Uso 13 won but got injured in ao14 final against Stan. Won both rg 11 and rg14.

      • Don’t worry, Sanju. It is good that he hasn’t played very demanding matches after Wimbledon. Now I am glad he lost early in Toronto and Cincy! Rafa will be ready and I hope to see him at the WTF πŸ™‚

    • He just needs to somehow get 1600 points vr to be assured of no 1.I don’t see Federer getting more than 3000 to 3360 out of 4000 points up for grabs as best case.

    • If the AO court speed goes back to what it was pre-2017, and Rafa is healthy, I might just say now that I will pick Rafa to win it in 2018. Much depends on where Fed is at at that point, as well as Novak, Andy, and Stan. But if the court isn’t lightning fast like a skating rink, I don’t see much reason why Rafa can’t play like he did at this US Open. If he can continue to play that well, he will certainly be hard to beat come February! I know that most people think it’s too unlikely, but it sure would be awesome if AO 2018 final was a 2017 rematch. πŸ™‚

      • Kevin, I highly doubt that they will slow down the AO court again. Why should they? If they really changed the court speed in order to accommodate Fed, as Hawkeye suspects, it wad a rousing success, although I personally believe that it was done in order to help Kyrgios.
        But it also seem like a good balance, that the AO court plays fast while the US Open court is slower. Many complained about a lack of diverse court speeds. Now they have it.

      • Question: was the US Open court really playing slower than in the last years or was it only slower than AO/Cincy/Montreal?
        If it was really slower than in the past years – why did they slow it down?
        Was this move coordinated with the Aussies and aimed at creating more surface diversity for the hardcourt slams?

        • Many players said ao was very fast but has any player gone on record to say uso was slower than usual ?I never read any player saying this . Maybe Ricky can confirm.

          • Sanju, that the AO had a faster court this year has been confirmed. I want to know if it is true that the US Open courts were slower than in the past.

            • I personally heard every big commentator and countless other officials say that the US Open courts were historically slow for the US Open this year. They suspected it could be related to the fact that they painted/re-finished the courts only like a week beforehand. Personally, I am not surprised at all that the AO sped their court up and that US Open slowed theirs down because the majority of people have been complaining for years now that the courts have all become so homogenized. I assume that the two hardcourt majors decided to make it way more interesting (imo) and have one major be fast and the other be slow. I love it because it allows players to use their strengths more effectively. Players who play more aggressively tend to do better on faster courts, and players who grind more tend to do better on slower courts. Obviously that’s not the rule across the board, as guys like Rafa, Fed, Nole, Murray, etc. are capable of winning on any speed. But there’s still no question that Fed’s chances of winning on a hard court go up when it’s faster, and Rafa’s chances go up when it’s not super fast. That’s one thing that has been impressive about Rafa this season- he was successful on both the fast court at AO and the slower court at US Open.

  11. Carlos moya detailed interview
    he is talking about changes Rafa made and how ao 17 loss to Federer hurt hard, how they thought he could win that final and how they really want to reverse the Federer losses.

    I am extremely pissed toni nadals statement here in the article. Seriously toni you need to shut your freaking mouth. I don’t remember severin luthi or ljubicic saying federers 8th wimby this year is not great as he did not have to beat rafa or Djokovic or Andy and got berdych and cilic instead. Too much of trying to keep Rafa grounded is not needed as he is 31 now and not a kid.

    • haha. I think he is just an honest guy who is just saying what is was- i.e. the top players either crashed out or were not there. However, I don’t think he means to say Rafa didn’t play at a very high level. He did say Rafa played great against Delpo.

      I do see your point ,though. You don’t have to explicitly say it like that!!

      Moya’s interview was good.

      • ‘You don’t have to explicitly say it like that!!’

        Just to clarify, ‘you’ was referring to Uncle Toni.

    • I don’t bother with what Toni said; but Moya, his views and takes about Rafa, I give more weight to what he said as his was a pair of fresh eyes watching over Rafa.

      I agree with Moya, that Rafa needs to play more aggressive tennis, and Rafa certainly did during the clay season. In fact, I feel Rafa remained injury free and not energy depleted come the USO all because of Rafa winning his clay court matches efficiently. Rafa needed to grind on clay in the past, even during his incredible season of 2013 and after his incredible NAHC season that year, Rafa looked flat during the Asian and the Indoor HC swings. I feel this time round, Rafa will be more energetic at the Asian swing, and I foresee him doing well there, winning a title there at least.

      I also feel that the way Rafa played from the QF onwards, even if it’s Fed whom he’s facing, Rafa would also beat him. If Delpo can beat Fed, I don’t see why Rafa couldn’t! As for Djoko and Murray, Rafa had successes over them at the USO in the past, I don’t think Rafa would lose to them should they meet. In fact other than the FO, the USO is the place where Rafa has/had successes > Djoko (Rafa 2-1 vs Djoko).

      • I agree with everything you said, lucky. Obviously we can never know for sure about matches that never happened, as different players bring very different challenges in terms of game styles and mental aspect. However, if we could go back in time and stick that Federer into the semis against Rafa, I would definitely pick Rafa in that one. The returning from the back wall wouldn’t work as well against someone as adept at the net as Fed, but I just think that Fed needs to be 100%, or close to it, to beat Rafa. And then the solidness of Rafa’s game right now would have overwhelmed Fed, I suspect. And who knows what would have happened if Novak/Stan/Andy were there and healthy, but it doesn’t matter. We can always wonder how Rafa and Fed would have done at Us Open/Wimbledon had Nole/Andy/Stan been healthy/there, just like we can also always wonder how Noble/Andy/Stan would have done at majors they won where Rafa/Fed were unhealthy or absent. It’s just the way the sport works much of the time- certain guys are healthy and/or in good form, while others are not. I prefer to analyze the greatest of what happened, not what could have happened, although it’s hard not to think about the “what ifs”. πŸ™‚ Rafa kicked so much ass in the 2nd week of this tournament, I personally couldn’t care less who was on the other side…

      • Absolutely agree with your analysis. Traditionally one has never had high expectations for the Asian swing post USO largely due to the punishing wear and tear on his body. Rafa has battled all his tennis life with constant injuries – in fact as Rafa himself said there has never been a time when he played without pain until this year.

        His team deserve the highest praise for delivering a fit and healthy Rafa. Long may it last.

    • Sanju says AT 6:40 PM: “Seriously toni you need to shut your freaking mouth.”

      When reading comments from Toni haters I feel that I would like to say them the same.

      Actually, Uncle Toni was asked about HIS departure from Rafa’s box after the USO, in order to concentrate on running the family’s new tennis academy in Mallorca.
      β€œFor ME it’s nothing special [to FINISH with a VICTORY],” he said. β€œNo different than the times when he won tournament of the grand slam. Rafael has Carlos Moya and Francisco Roig and I think he DON’T NEED that I go there [to tournaments]. I can be in my house.”

    • haha, so you’re not counting Federer in ‘this era’, Alison? But yes, it is amazing that he has won more USO titles than Djokovic!

  12. Djokovic is a slow hard court expert. That’s why he kept winning AO when courts were slow. Maybe, if USO speed remains the same next year, Novak could have a decent chance.
    I think he will make a difference to the tour when he is back.

  13. I think we can agree that this year’s USO was an interesting tournament, but certainly not a classic. You never knew what would happen next!

    I guess I’m ready for the Return of the (former) Big Four (or Five). Do I really want excellence back? Well, maybe after the AO? Would LOVE to see Rafa get that one, even if he ends up playing Mischa Zverev in the final! I expect there will be a slew of upsets there, too, with the rankings all over the place.

      • True, the AI were great, the rest of the slams not so much. The absolute low point was the Wimby final. But the overarching narrative if Fedal’s resurgence is compelling.

        • As to Uncle Toni’s remarks: he is Uncle Toni to the hilt and emphasising the negative instead of the positive, as he has always done throughout Rafa’s career. You could see how much he cared by his reaction when Rafa squandered the first match point, lol!. But for Rafa it’s good, that someone in the team is now seeing the glas half full instead of half empty πŸ˜‰

          • Yes and he shouting at rafa to calm down when he himself was hyper. Carlos moya had to tell him to relax and pat his back…lol.

        • I enjoyed the FO the most- Rafa’s unbelievable dominance;Stan vs Murray five sets epic; Thiem taking down last year’s champion Djoko; AZverev’s surprising R1 loss to Verdasco; Murray vs Delpo’s brilliant match (by Murray); Cilic getting to QF surprisingly; and Stan moving quietly through the draw almost unnoticed but then that epic SF!

          In fact I enjoyed that SF between Stan and Murray the most, especially Murray’s guile and craftiness, to extend the match to five sets with a chance of winning. Of course Rafa’s aggression and total dominance over Stan from start to finish in the final was really something to behold!

          • Yes, there were some good matches at RG, but the eventual winner was never in doubt. The final itself wasn’t thrilling, but it was high quality tennis from Rafa against the second best player of the tournament. Rafa played high quality tennis at the US Open final, too. But the opponent was of course not comparable to Wawa.
            As I said, the Wimby final was truly the low point of the slam season, although highly meaningful for Fed’s overall legacy.

            • I should add that it wasn’t Fed’s fault of course that Cilic wasn’t up to it in the final. Winning another Wimby trophy after 5 years was huge.

            • Rafas best at uso was semis set 2 3 and 4. Total domination. I really wish Fed was there. He surely saw it coming and said it as much in presser. He openly said Rafa is now playing well within himself and he knew rafa was fresh and not exhausted like in AO final after the marathon with dimitrov

  14. Sanju SEPTEMBER 12, 2017 AT 6:40 PM

    I am extremely pissed toni nadals statement here in the article. Seriously toni you need to shut your freaking mouth. I don’t remember severin luthi or ljubicic saying federers 8th wimby this year is not great as he did not have to beat rafa or Djokovic or Andy and got berdych and cilic instead. Too much of trying to keep Rafa grounded is not needed as he is 31 now and not a kid.

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I often defend Toni as he’s done great by Rafa, but he carries the responsibility for Rafa not believing in himself, despite all he’s achieved.

    • Yes, while I don’t find it so jarring in this recent case (he has a point after all), this is one of my main gripes with UT, too. His merits are immense, but he has some serious shortcomings as well. Not having established a robust self esteem in Rafa is probably his most glaring mistake.

    • stil, even if some of what he meant to say gets lost in translation, over the years a very consistent picture emerged. He has a very clear picture of himself and his philosophy which he has repeated often. I think he even conceded that it might’ve been a mistake not to have instilled more self-confidence in Rafa.

      • He just needs to stop giving too many interviews. He actually gives more interviews than Rafa and is always saying something or the other. If you want to say something to Rafa say it to him in private , why publically say his 16th slam is like any other and he did not need to beat any top player. What if a top player is in a match but just doesn’t perform like Stan at the title French match. One plays who one gets in front of him and the way Rafa was balling qtrs onwards and seeing the ball and crushing winners and simply bouncing in court like a bunny rabbit, no one would have beaten him. He was just excellent all French and last 3 matches of uso.

        • Yes, Sanju, Rafa was as good as Rafa gets at the French and post-4th round US Open, in my opinion. Practically unplayable. I don’t care who was on the other side of the net- the amazing part was what was on Rafa’s side of the net. πŸ™‚

        • Sanju says AT 5:31 PM: “He just needs to stop giving too many interviews.”
          His haters needs to stop trashing him! Fedfans are hating U.Toni since Rafa started to beat their beloved one. Unfortunaltely, some people who call themselves ‘Rafa fans’ have tended to sit in the haters’ boat.

          • I never thought this day would come, Augusta, but I think I actually agree with something you said! I wouldn’t word it quite as divisively as you lol, but I do think that people are taking Toni’s words out of context. Or perhaps the interviewers are printing his words out of context. Either way, I don’t believe for a second that Toni would ever knowingly diss his Nephew. In my opinion, I think that he was probably simply pointing out the fact that Rafa just happened to not have to face any current top players, and the publication maybe misquoted him, or took his quote out of context, as saying that Rafa’s title somehow isn’t meaningful because he only faced one former top player.

            Toni surely knows the truth- that Rafa beat the guys who the other favorites either couldn’t beat, or couldn’t even make it far enough to face! That’s how a single-elimination tourny works, especially in tennis. It’s all about about match-ups, and Rafa played better against Anderson, Del Po, and the others than anyone else did. He ended up the best player in the US Open 2017 men’s singles tournament.

            • Haven’t seen the interview. But considering how shallow and superficial the majority of media streams are, it is highly likely they took Toni’s quote out of context.

              Augusta generalizing again. I am a Fed fan and I don’t hate uncle Toni πŸ™‚ I can’t afford that.

          • Augusta -Please speak for yourself and stop casting aspersions on what others think or mean. We will say what we want to, take it or leave it.

        • The fact is, 6 of the top 10 players were in the draw and Rafa did beat the player who beat the 2nd seed, Federer since Murray did not start.

  15. Which of rafas matches that he lost had you wished he won ? Top pick ?

    For me it’s ao2012 and ao2017.not sure which of the 2 I would pick as both were winnable and ultra close. Maybe ao2012.

    I also feel wimby 2007 is one where he lost 5 setter to Fed,he could have won. He had 2 bps at 2 all in 5th,he choked there.

    • Although people seem to have very short memory… In 2013, most people said Federer was done and that Rafa would pass 17 in no time. They obviously shouldn’t have assumed Fed would never win again. Then after 2015, people were saying that Rafa would surely never win another major and that only Novak could pass 17. Clearly they were wrong to assume Rafa would never win again! Now that we’re back at square one like we were in 2014, with Fed only leading by three again, and suddenly people are just assuming again that Fed is surely done at 19. Do people never learn that you can NEVER count out Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal?!? Some of these pundits who are suddenly saying that Rafa will surely pass “Roger’s 19” were just a couple weeks ago saying that they couldn’t imagine anyone passing 19, so now they look foolish. You would think they would learn their lesson that they need to just wait until these guys retire before assuming they will never win another one, but no!

      The only reasons to believe that there is no way Federer could ever win more than 19 would be if his back never recovers. But there is truly no way for anyone to know what will happen with Fed’s back, OR with Novak/Andy/Stan’s return for that matter. Whenever Rafa and Federer decide that their bodies can never be healthy enough to compete with the best again (likely will happen sooner to Fed due to age), THEN we can write them off. Until then, I have been proven so wrong on far too many occasions by these guys for even just entertaining the possibility that they were ever finished winning. I wouldn’t dare consider it again as long as their bodies still let them compete at the highest level. I understand Uncle Toni saying it because he’s Rafa’s uncle and former coach. But the pundits with no relation to Rafa or Federer who have openly and definitively written both of them off before? It just surprises me that they are still willing to make assumptions about Fedal… You watch- if Federer managed to win a 20th next season, those same guys will be say, “Oh, surely no one will catch Roger now!” And then as soon as Rafa won his 17th, it will immediately be “Rafa is going to have a record 21 majors!” It’s like, just let it be haha. At least wait until the dust settles!

      In no way am I saying that it’s not possible that Roger ends his career with 19 majors- as that would be contrary to everything I’ve said. I just don’t see why people bother making these assumptions anymore after they’ve been proven wrong so many times. πŸ˜›

      • Kevin – just shows how fickle and fair weathered the analysts or pundits or media is. They did it to Fed in 2013 n 16 , they did it to rafa in 12 and 15/16 , they doing it to Novak now. 1 slam win and they will change their tune. Sad part is lot of former players like McEnroe wilander also joining this fickle jumping on bandwagon game. I thought former players should respect players more .

        BTW I am eager to read Fed’s comments on rafas uso. I want to see what he says. Most likely it will happen only at lavers cup.

        • The losses which hurt mostly all happened at AO IMO. And I really think he wouldn’t have lost against Wawa in 2014 if he hadn’t picked up this darn injury during warm-up.

          • That loss against Wawa was really the beginning of his physical and mental temporary decline. He seemed to have lost the joy of competing. He just wasn’t Rafa anymore. Just this year he managed to get back into a terrific physical and mental shape.

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