Rafael Nadal dominated from start to finish to win a third US Open title on Sunday with a resounding 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 defeat of Kevin Anderson.
With the victory, the Spanish top seed claimed his 16th grand slam singles title and his first in New York since winning in 2013. The success marked his second major of the season after winning a record tenth trophy at Roland Garros in June. For Anderson it was only his fourth defeat since Wimbledon.
Nadal has yet to lose to the South African, standing 5-0 in head-to-head, and the Spaniard never faced a break point as he secured the trophy in just under two and a half hours on Sunday.
“This has been a special two weeks for me,” Nadal said after the match, before directing his thoughts to the Mexican earthquake and the twin storms of Harvey and Irma.
“I’m sorry for the victims, this is a very sad moment for our world. It’s the moment to be strong. It’s impossible to control these disasters.”
Nadal congratulated his opponent, calling Anderson “a great example’ for the rest of the men’s tour, saying that he had come back from hip injuries playing better than ever.
The 31-year-old veteran also said he was pleased to have ended his grand slam season on a high: “It’s just unbelievable what happened for me this year. Since the start of the season it’s been very emotional. I’ve been playing a high level of tennis.
“To close my grand slam year with this win brings me high energy.”
Nadal and Anderson took an hour to complete the opening set – about the same running time as the entire women’s final.
The Spaniard got his nose in front with a break for 4-2 on a volley winner at the net, quickly taking the margin to 5-2 before winning the first set with a drop volley.
Before long, the world number one finished off another 6-3 set in quick time for a two-sets-to-love lead. Nadal then broke to start the third and claimed victory on his second match point, a backhand volley winner.
The straight-sets win means the Spaniard improved to 16-7 in grand slam finals, claiming his first title on a hard court since January 2014, in Doha.
He has played in three grand slam finals this season, with his only setback coming as runner-up to Federer in Melbourne.
After the final, Anderson was full of praise for his opponent.
“We are the same age, but I feel I’ve been watching Rafa all my life,” Anderson said. “It’s tough playing him, a great ambassador for our sport.”
In just getting to the final, Anderson made history. He was the first South African to feature in a grand slam title match since Kevin Curren lost to Mats Wilander at Wimbledon 33 years ago.
He was also the first to play in a US Open final in the post-1968 Open era, after countryman Cliff Drysdale finished runner-up in 1965 against Spain’s Manolo Santana.
“It’s been an amazing two weeks for me,” the towering South African said. “The competition is so strong, but to make a grand slam final is very special.
“This is not the result I wanted but I’ll keep fighting and I’ll be back.”
Anderson hit four more winners than Nadal, firing 32, but the big-serving right-hander was limited to just 10 aces. Nadal was impeccable with his volleying, winning the point all 16 times that he came to the net.