US Open Final Preview: Nadal Vs. Anderson
The US Open championship on Sunday at Arthur Ashe Stadium matches World No. 1 Rafael Nadal against No. 28 seed Kevin Anderson, who is making his Grand Slam final debut. Nadal has won the four previous meetings (9-1 in sets), including a third round match in Barcelona in April. In their lone Grand Slam meeting, Nadal won 75 61 64 in the Round of 16 at the 2015 Australian Open.
The champion will be the fifth straight Grand Slam winner 30 & over going back to last year’s US Open where Stan Wawrinka (31) captured the title. Since then, Roger Federer (35) won the Australian Open and Wimbledon, and Nadal (31) earned the Roland Garros crown.
This is just the seventh time in the Open Era that a Grand Slam final has been contested by a pair of players 30 & over. This is the first 30 & over US Open final since 2002 when Pete Sampras (31) defeated Andre Agassi (32).
All-Time Grand Slam Title Leaders
The Big Four of Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray has won 45 of the last 50 Grand Slam titles. Anderson is trying to become only the fourth player to break through and join former US Open champions Juan Martin del Potro, Marin Cilic and Wawrinka during that stretch, Wawrinka has won three Grand Slam titles. Since 2005 Roland Garros, Nadal and Federer have both captured 15 Grand Slam titles (Djokovic-12, Murray-3).
View FedEx ATP Head2Head: Nadal Leads 4-0
Nadal is appearing in his fourth US Open final (2-1), the first since capturing the 2013 title. His three previous US Open finals came against Novak Djokovic, beating the Serb in 2010 and falling in the 2011 title match. Nadal is making his third Grand Slam final showing of the season with a runner-up at the Australian Open (l. to Federer) and capturing a 10th Roland Garros crown (d. Wawrinka). The 31-year-old Spaniard is 15-7 lifetime in Grand Slam finals. His last Slam title on hard courts came here in Flushing Meadows in 2013.
Nadal is attempting to win at least two Grand Slam titles in a season for the fourth time in his career (3 in 2010, 2 in 2008, 2013). He is trying to win his first hard court singles title since January 2014 in Doha (d. Monfils). He has played 34 hard-court tournaments, reaching eight hard-court finals since his last title on the surface. Nadal has not faced a Top 20 opponent at the US Open and the last Grand Slam champion to do that was Pete Sampras at 2000 Wimbledon.
Open Era US Open Title Leaders
||5||1974, 1976, 1978, 1982-83
||5||1990, 1993, 1995-96, 2002
||3?||2010, 2013, 2017?
Anderson is the first South African to reach the US Open final since Cliff Drysdale (l. to Santana) in 1965 and in a Grand Slam final since Kevin Curren (l. to Wilander) at the 1984 Australian Open. Johan Kriek is the last South African Grand Slam singles champion at the 1981 Australian Open (d. Denton). Kriek represented the USA when he won the 1982 Australian Open. The 31-year-old Anderson is the oldest first-time Grand Slam finalist since Nikki Pilic (33) at 1973 Roland Garros (l. to Nastase).
The oldest first-time Slam champion in the Open Era is Andres Gimeno (34) at 1972 Roland Garros. The World No. 32 Anderson is the lowest-ranked Grand Slam finalist since No. 38 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the 2008 Australian Open (l. to Djokovic). Anderson is also the lowest-ranked US Open finalist since the inception of the Emirates ATP Rankings in 1973. The previous lowest-ranked US Open finalist was No. 22 Mark Philippoussis in 1998 (l. to Rafter). No. 20-ranked Andre Agassi is the lowest-ranked US Open champion in 1994. Anderson is trying to become the lowest-ranked Grand Slam champion since No. 44 Gaston Gaudio at 2004 Roland Garros.
Grand Slam Appearances Before Winning First Title (Open Era)
||36||2014 Australian Open
||34||1998 Australian Open
||2017 US Open?
||29||2014 US Open|