(1) Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs (28) Kevin Anderson (RSA)
After a crazy fortnight of tennis with big withdrawals and big names tumbling out early, it’s now down to the last two. It probably comes as little surprise to see Rafa in the final but it’s big South African Kevin Anderson who springs a big surprise in reaching his first Grand Slam final. Two players with contrasting styles and different weapons should provide the ingredients for an intriguing final.
How Rafael Nadal will win…
Nadal looked sensational in the second, third and fourth sets against Del Potro. After dropping the first set, Nadal became more aggressive and went after more on his forehand and stepped closer into the court to put the pressure on Del Potro. I expect a similar tactic against Kevin Anderson who like Del Potro is extremely tall. Rafa will have Anderson running all over the court and he will force the South African into multiple errors. The courts at Flushing Meadows this year look very slow which will play into Rafa’s hands and make it even hard for Anderson to hit winners past him.
How Kevin Anderson will win…
Anderson’s biggest strength is his massive serve. Anderson will need to serve extremely well all day and force the match into a few tie-breakers or even steal a set at 6-3 or 6-4. I expect Rafa to stand a long way behind the baseline on return of serve so Anderson will need to mix up power with sliders and kick serves to play the angles. On return he will need to take the ball early and hit it low and hard at Rafa to take his time away. Keeping the unforced error count down will be absolutely crucial to his success.
Whilst it’s a great effort to see Kevin Anderson’s years of hard work pay off, I envisage a tough day at the office for him. Nadal will be relentless and I don’t expect him not to give Anderson an inch. Anderson could be doing a fair bit of running and will be forced into numerous errors – exactly how Nadal will want the match played.
I think Rafa will be far too strong and have little to no trouble claiming major title number 16.
Nadal in 3 sets