World No.1 Rafael Nadal won his third US Open title, and 16th major tonight, defeating South African Kevin Anderson 6-3 6-3 6-4 in New York.
Nadal closed out the unheralded Anderson at every turn, withstanding pressure early in the match to stamp his authority and relentlessly seize his third US crown in straight sets.
It marks Nadal’s fifth title for the year – his 74th since turning pro – a remarkable turnaround since returning to the tour after wrist surgey in 2016.
From a world ranking of nine in January, the 31-year-old Spaniard regained the top spot in August and will arrive in Prague to compete for Team Europe at the Laver Cup in under two weeks.
A champion on all Grand Slam surfaces, Nadal said his health and happiness were keys to his renaissance this season.
“It is about being healthy and feeling well and competitive. That’s already happened in the whole season. So that’s the most important thing for me.”
Let down by his first service percentage and erratic ball-striking, Anderson pushed Nadal to deuce once – in the final game – but was unable to arrest the momentum of the indomitable Spaniard.
Accepting the champion’s trophy, Nadal said it has been a special two weeks for him, adding: “After a couple of years with some troubles, injuries, some moments playing not good, the beginning of the season has been very emotional.”
He played tribute to his uncle and mentor, Toni Nadal, who will stop traveling with Nadal after coaching him from the age of three.
“I can’t thank him enough for all the things he did for me. Without him I would never be playing tennis. He was strong and had great motivation to practice with me when I was a kid.”
Nadal also showed his empathy for the victims of Hurricane Irma, and urged them to be strong and ‘keep going’.
A great on and off the field, Nadal is chasing down the record books – and his rival, Roger Federer, his teammate at the Laver Cup. Federer, with 19 majors, is the only player to have won more majors that the Spaniard.
Together, they have dominated the Grand Slam stage in 2017.