The two time champion Rafael Nadal of Spain came back strongly after dropping the first set to the Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro and decimated his opponent 4-6,6-0,6-3,6-2 and now looks to be hot favourite to lift his 16th grand slam title as he faces the South African Kevin Anderson on Sunday in the grand final. The 28th seeded Protea, will play his maiden final after a four set win over the 12th seeded Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, 4-6,7-5,6-3,6-4 in the first semi final on Arthur Ashe stadium.
After dropping serve in the fifth game of the opening set and going on to lose the set in 50 minutes, the top seeded Spaniard changed gears and hit an astounding 45 winners, breaking the Argentine’s serve six times in the match. He improves to 9-5 in their career meeting, and looks set to add a third title to the ones he claimed in 2010 and 2013. Nadal erred in the first attacking Del Potro’s backhand in the first set, but then started hitting from both the wings with gay abandon.
Del Potro, who had routed Nadal 6-2,6-2,6-2 in the semi final of the U.S. Open in 2009, en route to his only grand slam title looked lost against the left handed Spaniard after the first set. He is the only player apart from Novak Djokovic to beat both Federer and Nadal in the same grand slam, but this time came up short after two compelling match against the sixth seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem, whom he beat after coming back from two sets down, and then beating the reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion in the quarter final.
Nadal on the other hand came into the match dropping only 11 games in his last two matches against Alexandr Dolgopolov and Andrey Rublev combined. After dropping a set in his second round match against Taro Daniel of Japan and then to the Argentine Leonardo Mayer in the third round, the left handed Spaniard has just dropped 22 games in three matches.
In the first semi final, Nadal’s compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta who had not dropped a set in his five matches at the Open, started confidently claiming the first set in just 33 minutes. He failed to hold on to an early break of serve in the second set, and once Anderson levelled the tie at one set apiece he looked like the obvious winner as he won in two hours and fifty five minutes.
The six feet eight inch tall Anderson hit 22 aces and had 58 winners on the day. Nadal leads there head to head 4-0 but if Anderson can serve a high percentage of first serves then can cause a few problems for Nadal. The 26 year old Busta ranked 19th in the world will pick up 720 points like Del Potro for a semi final showing. Del Potro is projected to rise five places to no. 23 while Busta will rise to at least eleven, if Nadal wins Busta will climb to no. 10, his first ever top ten ranking.
In the ladies section of the draw, 22 year old Madison Keys, seeded 15th, will battle the unseeded 24 year old Sloane Stephens in an All American final, the first since 2002. Keys dropped only 3 games against the 20th seeded Coco Vandeweghe winning 6-1,6-2 in just 66 minutes in the second semi final on Thursday evening on Arthur Ashe stadium.
That was before Stephens edged out the 37 year old five time champion Venus Williams in a topsy turvy 6-1,0-6,7-5 in two hours and seven minutes. After taking the first set in just 24 minutes, Stephens was bageledcin the second set by the elder Williams sibling who last won a title in 2008 at Flushing Meadows.
Stephens was the first to break in the decider but Williams levelled at 2-2. Stephens again broke in the seventh game only for the ninth seeded Williams to break back to 4-4. Stephens broke serve to love in the eleventh game and held her own serve to 15 in the twelveth game to enter her maiden grand slam final. Keys too will be playing her first major final on Saturday.
Prediction :- Nadal playing in his 23rd grand slam final will be looking to close the gap on Federer in career grand slam title. Federer has 19 while Nadal currently stands at 15. Anderson is playing his first final in a major and has won only three tour level titles. The Mallorcan is a tour leading 55-9 in matches played in 2017, having claimed four titles this year.
Anderson has a modest 29-15 record and no titles this year. The South African will have to serve out of his skins to stand any chance against Nadal who should win in four sets with two of them being settled by a tie-break.
LlPrediction for the ladies final :- This is a battle between two close friends but Keys lost their only previous meeting in Miami two and a half years ago and has moved a notch while Stephens has spent time to recover from injuries. This is tough to call but I pick Keys to win in three sets on Saturday.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]