The Six Keys To Nadal's Victory In New York
Sweet 16. Rafael Nadal won a perfect 16 of 16 points at the net in claiming his 16th Grand Slam singles title at the US Open on Sunday. Everywhere you looked, there was a storyline, but his superiority in finishing points at the front of the court shone bright on the big stage. Nadal defeated Kevin Anderson 6-3 6-3, 6-4 in the final, putting a stamp on his recent resurgence back to No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
There were six focal points for the Spaniard that highlighted his dominance in the past fortnight in the Big Apple.
1. Tournament Net Points Won 80% (96/120)
Nadal finished tied for fourth-best in points won at the net during the tournament and was tops among those coming forward at least 30 times. He turned in a dominant performance when coming forward on Sunday (16/16 won).
By contrast, Anderson only won 66 per cent (111/168) of points at the net for the tournament, including just 47 per cent (16/34) in the final. They actually won the exact same amount of points at net (16), but Anderson went there more than twice as much to accrue the same total.
2. Final Nadal Break Points Faced: 0
Nadal didn’t face a single break point in the final and was broken just seven times in seven matches throughout the tournament. It wasn’t until the last game of the match, with Nadal serving at 5-4 in the third set, that Anderson was finally able to extend a Nadal service game to deuce.
At deuce, Anderson jumped to his left to cover a first serve to the backhand, but Nadal was a step ahead with a serve out wide to the forehand. Anderson barely touched the ball. On his second match point, Nadal served-and-volleyed behind a curling slider out wide, and easily knocked off a backhand volley winner into the open court to win the match.
3. Final Baseline Points Won: 57% (54/95)
Once the point evolved past the serve and return in the final, Nadal completely dominated from the back of the court. Nadal won 57 per cent of his baseline points, while Anderson battled mightily, but only managed to win 32 per cent (25/77) of his baseline points. Anderson’s forehand yielded 27 errors, while the backhand was slightly higher at 35.
The baseline was the Spaniard’s domain from start to finish in New York, winning a tournament high 58 per cent (456/784). He was one of only nine players that had a winning record from the baseline in New York over the past two weeks.
4. Gateway Points Won: 100% (4/4)
Nadal was only pressured to 30/30 and deuce four times in the final and won all four of those points. In direct contrast, Anderson was pushed to 30/30 and deuce 21 times over three sets, winning just 14 (67 per cent) of those points.
Anderson’s first service game of the match went to deuce and he won it. It was a victory for Anderson, but also a victory for Nadal to immediately go deep in the South African’s opening service game. He had to endure seven deuces in his second service game before finally winning it. His third service game had five deuces, and he won that as well.
At 3-3, Anderson was stretched to deuce yet again. He double faulted, putting a 107 mph second serve into the net, and lost the ad point when he cooked a forehand just wide.
5. Tournament: Nadal Serve & Volley 100% (10/10)
Nadal had not served-and-volleyed until the semi-finals, where he won 5/5 against Juan Martin Del Potro. Nadal doubled up with the tactic, winning 5/5 against Anderson, following a wide slider immediately to the net in the Ad court on match point.
The overall win percentage serving and volleying for all players in New York was 66 per cent (375/572), which was higher than the average for general net points (65 per cent) and baseline points (47 per cent).
6. Final: 1st Serve Points Won Deuce Court: 91% (20/22)
Nadal peppered the Anderson backhand with his first serve in the deuce court, hitting 13 down the middle, three at the body, and just six out wide to the forehand. Nadal also went after Anderson’s backhand return in the Ad court, hitting 16 wide, two at the body, and only five down the T to the forehand. Nadal won 18/23 first serves in the Ad court.