Rafael Nadal made a major comeback at the U.S. Open on Sunday, beating Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 to claim victory after more than two years out of the spotlight.
The win gave Nadal his 16th Grand Slam trophy, leaving him second only to Roger Federer, who holds 19. It was Nadal’s third U.S. Open championship, and his first since 2013.
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.