Many fans see this as an unequivocal mismatch but keep in mind the proverbial David versus Goliath. Only that, in this case David is taller than Goliath! Rafael Nadal will look to extend his supremacy as the second-most prolific player in men’s tennis history when he takes on Kevin Anderson for the 2017 US Open Men’s title.
Nadal’s entry to the final was more or less a certainty – especially after Roger Federer crashed out in the quarters. Anderson, on the other hand, made optimum use of an open bottom draw to make his way to a first Grand Slam final.
A third US title for Nadal?
The Spaniard is a two-time winner here in 2010 and 2013 and should start as heavy favorite. The 31-year-old world number one has wound the clock back this year reaching the Australian Open final before adding the French Open to his kitty.
He now has a great chance to net his 16th Grand Slam.
His preparation has not been great and the run-in to the final has not been perfect. But the draw has been kind to Nadal and he played only one seed before the final. Juan Martin Del Potro made sure that it wasn’t Federer and Nadal made sure that his shrewd tactics carried him past the heavy artillery of the Argentine.
Can Anderson turn David?
The 2.03m Anderson is not your usual David but the 32-ranked South African need to bring out every weapon in his arsenal to go past Nadal. The rainbow nation has only one Grand Slam winner so far which was Johan Kriek in 1981 Australian Open.
Anderson is already the lowest ranked finalist at a major tournament since Jo-Wilfried Tsonga reached the 2008 Australian Open final. The way he celebrated his semi-final win looked as if he already won the title. Hopefully, he switches back to match mode against Nadal.
Stats and key battles
New York loves backing the underdogs and Anderson could have the local support in the final – even though he knocked out local favorite Sam Querrey in the quarters.
The pair has faced each other four times so far with Nadal winning each time – thrice on hard courts. That Anderson could take only one set off Nadal in all the four matches put together indicates how dominant Nadal was.
Whom are you backing?
Is this one of those matches where the result is a foregone conclusion? You are tempted to say yes but when a player has nothing to lose – like Anderson has – anything can happen. Odds of 1.14 (Ladbrokes) make Nadal odds-on favorite for the title as he combines relentless defense with shrewd on-court tactics.
But, Anderson’s booming serves gives him an edge and if he can find his range, he could make it difficult for the top seed. Odds offered on Anderson’s win are 6.5 (Bet365) and it takes an aggressive pick to back him.
Nadal is a strong favorite on Sunday but if Anderson can take the action to tie-breakers he may have a chance to take a set off the Spaniard. A slightly aggressive pick, but back the total sets to be four at odds of $2.80
Unless, of course, Anderson chooses to do a Goliath on ‘David’ Nadal!