Rafa’s resur­gence

> Nadal hails ‘best sea­son’ and ‘in­cred­i­ble era’ af­ter US Open win

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

RAFAEL NADAL de­scribed the year 2017 as “one of the best of his ca­reer” yes­ter­day af­ter win­ning a third US Open and 16th Grand Slam.

World No. 1 Nadal de­feated South Africa’s world No. 32 Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in a bru­tally one-sided fi­nal dur­ing which he did not face a break point.

Nadal also claimed an un­prece­dented 10th French Open in June af­ter fin­ish­ing run­ner-up to Roger Fed­erer at the Aus­tralian Open.

“In terms of re­sults, this has been one of the best sea­sons of my ca­reer, of course,” Nadal ad­mit­ted of a year in which he won at least two Slams for the fourth time in his ca­reer.

Had he got­ten the bet­ter of Gilles Muller at Wim­ble­don, where he lost the fi­nal set of his fourth-round clash 15-13, the year might have been even more mem­o­rable.

“I have been win­ning ti­tles, play­ing three fi­nals of Grand Slams, so that’s a lot. That’s so dif­fi­cult. The other slam that I was not in the fi­nal, I lost the match 15-13 in the fifth to be in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

“So was very com­pet­i­tive year for me. And on clay, I won al­most ev­ery match. Of course is an emo­tional sea­son be­cause I have been through tough mo­ments in terms of in­juries.”

Nadal’s win yes­ter­day was the lat­est chap­ter in an epic story of dom­i­na­tion by the sport’s su­per­stars.

From Wim­ble­don in 2003, an in­cred­i­ble 53 of 58 Slams have now been claimed by just five men – Fed­erer (19), Nadal (16), No­vak Djokovic (12) and Andy Mur­ray and Stan Wawrinka with three apiece.

Only Andy Rod­dick, Gas­ton Gau­dio, Marat Safin, Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic have bro­ken the spell.

“We are are in an era that is not nice to say, be­cause I’m part of it, but we are in an era that some play­ers make in­cred­i­ble things in this sport,” said Nadal.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to win a lot of ti­tles. We should be very happy. Prob­a­bly even Roger and me and No­vak, much more than we ever dreamed.”

To ham­mer home their en­dur­ing ap­peal and dom­i­nance, Fed­erer and Nadal shared the four Slams in 2017 -Fed­erer win­ning the Aus­tralian Open be­fore cap­tur­ing a record eighth Wim­ble­don. De­spite his suc­cess, catch­ing the 19 ma­jors of Fed­erer is not par­tic­u­larly high on Nadal’s list of pri­or­i­ties.

“I re­ally never thought much about that. I just do my way. He does his way. Let’s see when we fin­ish,” he said.

“I have 16. So three is big dif­fer­ence. I re­ally don’t think much about these kind of things.

“Well done for Roger that he is hav­ing an amaz­ing sea­son, too, and well done for me be­cause I’m hav­ing a great sea­son, too.

“Ten­nis is not all about the Grand Slams, so there are tour­na­ments to come and I’m ex­cited about this last part of the sea­son.”

It’s all a far cry from the end of last year when Nadal was ranked at nine in the world and Fed­erer was 16.

It was also a 2016 sea­son that saw the in­jury-hob­bled Nadal lose in the first round at the Aus­tralian Open, with­draw af­ter two rounds of the French with a wrist prob­lem, skip Wim­ble­don and exit the US Open in the last 16.

How­ever, in 2017, Fed­erer and Nadal have won five ti­tles apiece and to­day they will be back at No. 1 and 2 in the world for the first time since 2011.

“I was sur­prised in Jan­uary. Now I am not that much sur­prised,” said Nadal.

“There are things that prob­a­bly Roger and me share – that is pas­sion for what we are do­ing, pas­sion for ten­nis, pas­sion for the com­pe­ti­tion and the spirit of im­prove­ment all the time.” – AFP

– AFPPIX

Rafael Nadal makes a re­turn to Kevin Anderson dur­ing their Men’s Sin­gles fi­nal match at the USTA Bil­lie Jean King Na­tional Ten­nis Cen­ter in New York yes­ter­day.

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