Rafael Nadal has ended his three-and-a-half year wait for a hard court title by dismissing a spirited Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, in the final of the US Open in New York.
Underlining his status as the best player in the world according to the Emirates ranking system, the 31-year-old produced a display of tenacity and speed in his shot-making. It was a picture perfect outcome for the Spaniard, who wasn’t taken to deuce whilst serving until the final game of the match. Overall Nadal’s display consisted of a 84% winning first service rate, 30 winners and only 11 unforced errors.
“It is a very special two weeks for me,” Nadal said during the trophy ceremony.
“To close the Grand Slam year with a win in New York, brings me to a higher energy because the crowd is unbelievable here.”
Sunday’s finale was tennis’ own version of David and Goliath. Top seed Nadal was aiming to claim his 16th major title against Anderson, a player participating in his first grand slam final. It started as a mammoth battle between the two heavy hitters, but in this version of the tale, it was the match favourite who prevailed against the underdog.
The job of trying to tame the service power of his 6’8” opponent was a far from simple task for Nadal early on. 35 minutes into the match only five games were played as Anderson battled to stay within contention. Firing a series of aces and producing some nifty play at the net. The South African eventually buckled under pressure in the seventh game when a forehand landed out to secure Nadal’s breakthrough. Suddenly the closeness between the two rapidly eroded as the Spaniard roared his way to the first set lead. Clinching it with a delicate drop shot at the net.
31 places separate the two men in the ATP rankings and that difference became more noticeable as the match progressed. Anderson’s spirited performance was no match for Nadal’s superiority. Who used the speed of his shot-making to dictate the rallies. Nadal’s game plan of standing six meters behind the baseline when receiving was an unusual approach, but it rewarded him dearly. Muscling his way through the second set with an emphatic winner-error ratio of 15-2, the Spaniard broke for a 4-2 lead with the help of a smash at the net. Continuing to orchestrate the encounter on his own terms, the second set was sealed with ease. A lengthy rally that concluded with a ferocious forehand cross court winner.
The inevitability of Nadal’s milestone win began to frustrate Anderson, who battled hard and only managed to win six games in the first two sets. Mentally and physically the Spaniard had the edge, benefiting heavily from his rivals unforced error count towards the closing stages. Anderson continued to fight, prompting praise from the animated New York crowd, but it was not enough to spoil the Spanish party.
Serving for the title, Nadal’s rhythm suffered a blip as numerous calls from the crowd interrupted his service motion. After seeing his first match point come and go due to a speedy return from the world No.32, it was second times a charm for the top seed with a winning backhand slice at the net. Prompting praise from both the Crowd and his rival.
“I know we are the same age, but I feel that I have been watching you my whole life.” Anderson reflected after the final.
“You have been an idol of mine and it’s tough playing you. You’re one of the greatest ambassadors of our sport.”
Nadal’s latest milestone also marked the end of an era. From 2018 onwards, he will no longer be joined by his long-term coach and uncle Toni on the tour. The man who first introduced Nadal to tennis. It was only fitting that he pay tribute to him moments after the story, describing Toni as ‘one of the most important people in his life.’
“I can’t thank Toni enough for everything he has done for me. Without him I don’t think I would be playing tennis. He has had a great commitment to training with me since I was three and he is one of the most important people in my life.” The newly crowned US Open champion said.
Taking home a prize money fund of $3.7 million, Nadal is the seventh man in history to win multiple grand slam titles after their 30th birthday. He is now only three titles behind Roger Federer’s all-time record of 19 grand slam trophies.
Dominic Thiem reaches his first quarter final at the Australian Open
Dominic Thiem eased past Gael Monfils 6-2 6-4 6-4 after 1 hour and 50 minutes on the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open. Thiem has extended his winning streak to 6-0 in his head-to-head matches against Monfils.
He fought back from two sets to one down to beat Australia’s Alex Bolt in the second round, but he won eight of his past nine sets to advance to the quarter finals.
Thiem got two breaks in the first set and never faced a single break point in the entire match. The Austrian player converted his fourth break point after three deuces, as Monfils missed a backhand volley wide. Thiem started the third set with an early break in the first game, as Monfils hit an inside-out forehand wide from the middle of the court wide. Thiem won his next service games and held his final game at love.
Thiem will face Rafael Nadal in a re-match of last year’s Roland Garros final.
“I think that I played my best match so far at this year’s Australian Open. It’s a very good feeling. The score looks way easier than the match was. I think I was lucky to make an early break in each set and I was managing to hold my serve well. I am so happy because I am in the quarter final here for the first time”, said Thiem.
Alexander Zverev tops Andrey Rublev to set Australian Open quarter final against Stan Wawrinka
Alexander Zverev beat his friend Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open for the first time in his career and his third at Grand Slam level.
Zverev broke serve once in each set. The German player has not dropped a set at this year’s edition of the Australian Open.
Zverev ended Rublev’s 15-match winning streak. Rublev had not lost a match since October, winning four matches at the Davis Cup last November and back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide.
In the opening set Zverev earned his first break at 3-3, as Rublev hit a forehand into the net. He held his serve to consolidate the break and wrapped up the first set after 29 minutes, when Rublev hit a crosscourt backhand wide.
Zverev started the second set with an immediate break in the first game of the second set and closed it out with a hold at love with an ace after 29 minutes.
Zverev broke serve for the third time in the match in the ninth game of the third set to take a 5-4, when Rublev made a groundstroke error, and sealed the win with a forehand volley.
“It feels amazing. I played some great matches against some great opponents. This is Andrey’s first loss of the season, having won two tournaments and getting through to the fourth round with unbelievable tennis. I have known Andrey since we were ten years old. I think he will be top 15, top 10 very soon. I am just happy and I hope I can continue”,said Zverev.
Zverev will face Stan Wawrinka in the quarter final. The German star beat Wawrinka twice in their previous two head-to-head matches in St. Petersburg 2016 and Miami 2017.
Stan Wawrinka edges Danil Medvedev in a five-set thriller to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open
Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka reached the quarter final at the Australian Open for the fifth time in his career with a 6-2 2-6 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 win over fourth seed and 2019 US Open finalist Danil Medvedev after 3 hours and 25 minutes. Wawrinka qualified for the last eight for the first time since 2017.
Wawrinka earned his first break in the fourth game, when Medvedev sent his backhand long. Wawrinka did not convert two more break points in the sixth game before breaking for the second time at love to close out the opening set 6-2 after 32 minutes. Wawrinka won 85% of his first serve points and hit 16 winners to 8 unforced errors in the opening set.
Medvedev broke in the third game of the second set to open up a 3-1 lead, when Wawrinka netted his forehand. The Russian player clinched the second set with three service winners at 5-2 to level the score.
Medvedev broke serve in the seventh game of the third set after a backhand error from Wawrinka and closed out the set with a service winner in the 10th game.
Wawrinka wasted a break point in the fourth game of the fourth set. Both players traded service holds en route to the tie-break. Wawrinka earned an immediate mini-break to open up a 3-0 lead in the tie-break. The former Australian Open champion hit a half-volley winner to cruise to a 5-2 lead and converted his first set point, when Medvedev netted a backhand in the ninth point.
Wawrinka broke Medvedev at 15 in the first game of the fifth set and saved three break points at 2-1. Wawrinka went up a double break in the seventh game and forced an error from Medvedev to wrap up the match, as he was serving for the win in the eighth game.
Wawrinka set up a quarter final against Alexander Zverev, who beat Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4. Zverev beat Wawrinka twice in their two head-to-head matches in St. Petersburg 2016 and Miami 2017.
“That was an amazing match and an amazing atmosphere. It was really tough to play against Danil. It was really tough to play against Danil. I had to raise my level in the fourth and fifth sets. The level was super high and the atmosphere is something special here in Australia. I am finding solutions. I was losing a bit of confidence in the second and third sets, and was fighting against myself to play my game. I had to fight, stay positive and I am happy with the result”,said Wawrinka.
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