Before all of the Nadal fans get upset at the title of this blog post, wait just a minute. There are no two ways about it, Nadal’s US Open win was by far his least interesting major. But it’s not his fault. After Federer fell in the quarters of the Open, Nadal was basically handed the trophy on a silver platter.
Not to discredit the other great players who made deep runs in the tournament, all credit to them. But it just wasn’t the caliber of tennis that we are accustomed to seeing in the second week of a grand slam. With Djokovic, Murray, Raonic, Wawrinka and Nishikori all out of the tournament with injuries, the draw was wide open as it is. Then Nadal got an incredible draw on top of that. He did not face a seeded player until he met a depleted Del Potro in the semifinals. That was billed as the match of the tournament, but it fell flat.
His opponent in the final? The unheralded, and extremely tall Kevin Anderson. Kevin played an exceptional tournament, but never stood a chance against Nadal. After the dust settled, Rafa was biting his sixteenth major trophy.
The title was more significant not in that he added to his collection, but in that it was the last with his uncle Toni as his coach. Their partnership came to an end at the culmination of the event, and Uncle Toni had some interesting words, saying, “For me, it’s nothing special. This tournament was different because we play against Dolgopolov, Rublev. Good players but not the top.”
Uncle Toni has been in the news recently, clearly unhappy about his split with his nephew, so it should come as no surprise that he was downplaying the most recent victory. It’s disappointing to see the light in which this victory is being cast. While it was certainly not the most difficult of Rafa’s slam victories, it is historic nonetheless.
Would he have won the tournament if the top players were all healthy? That much we will never know.
As tennis fans, all we can do is hope that Nadal stays healthy and has the chance to compete for more slams when the best of the best are at their best. For now, well done Rafa, but it won’t be this easy again. That much is for sure.