The US Open Men’s Final: Five Facts You Need To Know

Rafael Nadal (zimbio.com)

Regardless of the outcome history will be made when Rafael Nadal takes on Kevin Anderson in the final of the US Open on Sunday. On one side there is world No.1 Nadal bidding to become only the second man in history to win a 16th major title. On the other is underdog Anderson, seeking to be South Africa’s first ever US Open champion.

With so much at stake for both men, here are five key facts to take note of.

The clash of the over 30’s

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For the first time in 15 years a US Open final will feature two players over the age of 30. Both are 31-year-old and will be seeking new milestones. For Nadal he has a chance to become only the seventh player in the Open era to win multiple grand slam titles over the age of 30. Meanwhile, Anderson has a chance to win his maiden grand slam title on his 34th attempt. Only Stan Wawrinka and Gordan Ivanisevic have played more grand slams before winning their first title.

The last 30 and over final at Flushing Meadows was in 2002 when Pete Sampras defeated Andre Agassi in four sets. That was also the last time an all-American men’s final occurred in New York.

Anderson’s bid to join a prestigious club

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Should Anderson win, he would achieve something that only three other players have managed to do in the past 50 grand slam tournaments. The big four (Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray) has won 45 out of the past 50 major titles. Coincidentally, all of those players to triumph endured success at the US Open:-

Juan Martin del Potro (2009 US Open)
Marin Cilic (2014 US Open)
Stan Wawrinka (2014 Australian Open, 2015 French Open and 2016 US Open).

Nadal’s hard court drought

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The world No.1 currently has 73 ATP titles to his name. Although, only 22% of them (16/73) has occurred on a hard court. Nadal’s last triumph on the surface was in January 2014 when he defeated Gael Monfils at the Qatar Open. Since then, he has played in 34 hard court tournaments, settling for runner-up in eight of those.

Nadal’s best performances on hard courts (post Qatar 2014)
2014 Australian Open – lost to Stan Wawrinka
2014 Miami Masters – lost to Novak Djokovic
2015 China Open – lost to Novak Djokovic
2015 Swiss Indoors – lost to Roger Federer
2016 Qatar Open – lost to Novak Djokovic
2017 Australian Open – lost to Roger Federer
2017 Mexican Open – lost to Sam Querrey
2017 Miami Open – loss to Roger Federer

South African history making

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1965 was the last time a South African man reached the final of the US Open when Cliff Drysdale lost to Manuel Santana. Out of all four grand slam events, Anderson is the first finalist from his country since the 1984 Australian Open (Kevin Curren).

“My biggest hope is that I’m able to inspire kids to play the sport. It’s very tough coming from South Africa, far from the scene. I take a lot of — it makes me feel good that I can hopefully fly a flag and show kids that if you work hard you can get there.” He said earlier in the week.

Anderson is the lowest-ranked US Open finalist since the creation of the ATP rankings in 1973.

Rafa’s sweet 16

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Success would narrow the gap between the two most decorated male players in tennis history. Should Nadal win on Sunday, he would claim a 16th major trophy, just three behind Federer’s record. The Spaniard is already the first player in history to win the same grand slam ten times at the French Open.

“For me what is more important, more than winning Slams is to be happy.” Said Nadal. “I am happy if I am healthy and happy, if I feel competitive in the most of the weeks that I am playing, and that’s what has happened this year.”

Nadal’s grand slam record
Australian Open – champion 2009
French Open champion – 2005-2008, 2010-2014 and 2017
Wimbledon – champion 2008 and 2010
US Open – champion 2010 and 2013

 

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