The Runner Sports

Rafael Nadal To Meet Kevin Anderson In US Open Final

Although fans did not get the first-ever Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal US Open showdown, the semifinal matches were still highly entertaining. Kevin Anderson, seeded 28th, took out Pablo Carreno-Busta, seeded 12th, in four sets, while world No.1 Nadal also needed four sets to defeat 24th seed Juan Martin del Potro. At 31, Anderson is into his first Grand Slam final, and could become the first South African since 1982 to win a Grand Slam title. Meanwhile, Nadal reaches his fourth US Open final, having a 2-1 record so far.

Anderson vs. Carreno-Busta:

The first semifinal match was Anderson and Carreno-Busta. This stage in a Grand Slam was new territory for both, but they played to the best of their abilities, making for a great semifinal. Carreno-Busta reached the doubles final at the US Open last year, so he has experienced the big occasion before.

Carreno-Busta struck first, winning the opening set. However, two untimely double-faults would give Anderson opportunities in the second and third. The first double-fault at 5-6, 30-30 in the second set gave Anderson a set point, which he won. The second double-fault came at 1-3, 30-30 in the third set, giving Anderson a break point and then a cushion to close out that set. Anderson broke Carreno-Busta for a 3-2 lead in the fourth set.

Though there was never another break of serve, and despite Carreno-Busta’s admirable defensive skills, Anderson had too much firepower after that first set. A forehand into the net from Carreno-Busta gave Anderson the 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 win.

Anderson has nothing to lose in the final, and could pull a “del Potro” and take the title from the on-paper favorite. For Carreno-Busta, a season-best so far bodes well for him in the future. In fact, clay is actually his best surface, so look for him to make a French Open final or two.

Nadal vs. del Potro:

For Nadal and del Potro, this was a rematch of their 2009 encounter, which del Potro won easily in straight sets. Only one break from del Potro was needed to secure the first set. Nadal had the perfect answer in the second blitzing through it 6-0. The tactic of taking the ball earlier and attacking del Potro’s second serve proved to be the winning formula for Nadal in the second. Three more games came and went before del Potro got on the board in the third.

No matter how many forehand winners del Potro hit, he could not do it enough to break Nadal down. After every fantastic forehand winner from del Potro, Nadal would just step up for the next point and erase it from his mind. Nadal’s mentality was calm yet strong throughout this match. Even when the crowd tried to will del Potro on, Nadal kept focused. del Potro seemed drained after winning the opening set, both physically and mentally. With Nadal’s style though, how could he not be? Two lengthy matches from the fourth round and quarterfinal might have worn del Potro out.

Nadal stormed to the finish line 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2. This match definitely made up for the encounter that most fans wanted instead. del Potro should leave with his head held high after reaching his first Grand Slam semifinal in four years.

Nadal will be the heavy favorite, having the experience, hardware (in fact, two US Opens), and top-level defensive athletic ability, but Anderson has a big serve and great athleticism as well. If Anderson can come out like he did Friday afternoon, he for sure has a shot. Nadal leads the head-to-head 4-0.

Conrad Ellis

Conrad Ellis

Stevenson University graduate, class of 2016
Played tennis for 14 years and counting, favorite shot is forehand
Conrad Ellis