They did the time warp again on Sunday. It has been that sort of season in men’s tennis. Scar tissue? What scar tissue? Creaky knees, wrists and confidence? Banish the demons and roll back the years.
So it went at the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon, and so it went at the United States Open, the fourth and final Grand Slam tournament, as Rafael Nadal completed a 50-50 split of the 2017 loot with Roger Federer.
Nadal, back at No. 1 at age 31, underscored his resurgence by defeating Kevin Anderson of South Africa, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, in a U.S. Open singles final on Sunday that was no surprise at this late stage of this tennis revival.
“I was surprised in January — now I am not that much surprised, no?” said Nadal, left eyebrow, as ever, arching, referring to his Australian Open final against Federer.
Nadal claimed his third U.S. Open championship and his first since 2013. It was also his first title in a hardcourt tournament since winning in Doha, Qatar, in January 2014
But Nadal, with his innate competitive streak, is much more about confronting today’s challenges than obsessing over the past, and this triumphant season has been a testimony to his uncommon resilience and drive.
Like the 36-year-old Federer, his past and present rival, Nadal has re-emerged at the highest level after an injury layoff. Like Federer, Nadal has won two Grand Slam singles titles this year.
It was also the first time in any of his U.S. Open, Wimbledon or Australian Open title runs that Nadal had played none of the other members of the so-called Big Five: Federer, Djokovic, Murray or Wawrinka.
He did face del Potro, a former U.S. Open champion now ranked 28th, in the semifinals.
“I consider del Potro as top level, but the reality is, we had an easy draw until then,” Toni Nadal said.
Source: NY Times