Veteran Rafael #Nadal clinched his position in the final match of the #US Open after his semifinal rout against opponent Juan Martin #del Potro. Del Potro, who disposed handily of Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, found Nadal much harder to read, despite his own powerful forehand. While Del Potro disrupted the much anticipated Nadal-Federer rematch by beating Federer in the quarterfinals, just days later he disappointed himself and his rowdy Argentinian supporters when he succumbed to the energy and technique of Nadal.

Fans of both Nadal and Del Potro expressed their amazement at the outcome, solidifying an incredible run for the Spaniard after having a disappointing 2016.

While Del Potro has had his own injury problems early on, he looked unbeatable himself, getting off to a fast pace with his unrelenting forehands.

Advertisements
Advertisements

This caused Nadal to back up out of his traditional zone of play, worrying many of his fans:

Veteran Beats Powerful Contender

While Nadal came out to Arther Ash Stadium hoping to continue his resurgence in 2017 and clinch his third grand slam final, Del Potro wanted none of it, devising a seemingly fool-proof plan. To counter Nadal's traditional presence on the court, Del Potro held nothing back in terms of power from the onset, winning 8 of 10 points on serve and backing Nadal up way past the baseline.

Advertisements

In the end, however, this would be his achilles heel. As Del Potro tired from his early attacks, Nadal reinvigorated himself, showing the world why he is still number one. After his treacherous first set, Nadal would win 9 straight sets and would ultimately blow away his opponent by winning 42 points to just 19 unforced errors.

Nadal's Resurgent Career Lives On

As Del Potro watched longingly on as Nadal's winning backhand soared past his outstretched racket, the tennis world didn't stop to question themselves but instead lauded him for the legend he has proven himself to be. The one person not overwhelmed by his eye turning antics was the 15-time grand slam champion himself Nadal, who expressed his own amazement at his efforts in 2017. "It means everything to be back here on this amazing court in front of this amazing crowd," Nadal said during an on-court interview with ESPN. "Just the fact to be in the final, and have the chance to fight for another title here is so important for me."

And it would be important to him after the year he has had.

Advertisements

Nadal has struggled in these later stages of his career. His last major wins were in 2013 but, like Federer, he has come alive with a newly found vigor. Nadal has regained his place kas one of the best tennis players in the world through determination, grit, and agility. As he prepares for his final match of 2017, it is important to realize the truly special nature of the year he has produced, as it too soon can slip away into the folds of injury and fatigue.

Del Potro Goes Home Dejected but with Hope

For his part, in post match interviews, Del Potro came across as resigned to his fate, relishing his fairy tale Open and realizing his ineptitude to beat Nadal. "Today I think he had the game to win, to beat me, and to win the tournament," del Potro told media following the match. "He played very smart from the second until the end of the match, because I was just standing all the time on my left side and once he played down the line, he won the point." While Del Potro will likely kick himself for not preparing his endurance for the long game, his tenacity in fighting back this year, after four surgeries in as many years, should be lauded. While Del Potro hasn't been able to channel his own dominance of 2009 or even 2012, in the face of constant injury and 5 years of little improvement, 2017 should come as a relief. He ended up making two grand slam semifinals and beating Roger Federer in the process.

Looking Ahead to Sunday:

While Nadal may seem like the heavy favourite for Sunday's final, it's important to realise the journey of his opponent Kevin Anderson. Anderson, the South African maestro from Johannesburg, has battled his own injury problems, much like Del Potro, including an ankle surgery just last year. While his run as the 28th seed may seem remarkable, its glamour is reduced by the field of this year's challenge. With major title owners like Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and Stan Wawrinka but also Grand Slam runners-up Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic out with injuries, Andersons' side of the draw was all too welcoming. The draw coupled with his show of force allowing a first-time major finalist to content for the world title alongside Federer and Nadal.

Kevin for his part was truly ecstatic after clinching his spot in the final, long before Nadal even graced the court. After he leapt into the crowd to embrace his wife, he exclaimed to the microphone of ESPN: "I don't know if the team hug is appropriate before the final but it felt like the right thing to do." Being the lowest ranked men's singles finalist since 2008 and Joe-Wilfred Tsonga's memorable run in the Australian Open, Anderson will likely be content with any outcome, but only time will tell if he will be able to strike home where Del Potro was not.