From a numbers standpoint, the two-time U.S. Open champion is the undisputed favorite against Anderson. Rafa Nadal will be aiming for his third title at Flushing Meadows, and there is no doubt he is the big favorite. "A lot of times I know that and it didn't happen, but [on Friday] it happened". But today it happened. "I woke up today and said to myself that today is the day that I'll play with the right energy and I needed to increase the level of my game", he said.
What he did was magic.
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates his win against Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, September 9, 2017. Nadal entered the semi-final with a tournament-leading 58 per cent of baseline points won, but it was del Potro who unloaded from the back of the court in the initial proceedings.
"It's a very emotional year for me". That strategy could be challenging against Nadal, who is averaging just over 24 unforced errors a match in this tournament.
Nothing tells the story of resurgence better like tennis and no story has been more heart-warming than that of del Potro.
Nadal roared into the Australian Open final, losing to Federer, then captured his record 10th French Open crown and has now put himself on the brink of a 16th Slam title, three shy of Roger Federer's record.
Del Potro's backhand has been hindered by a series of surgeries to fix problems with his left wrist.
If someone had suggested in the beginning of the year that Roger Federer would win two Grand Slams and Rafael Nadal would take another (and possibly a second), we probably would have rolled our eyes. Nadal last made it to three major finals in one year in 2011.
Anderson will need every ounce of confidence when he takes the court opposite Nadal if he has a realistic chance of beating the 31-year-old Spaniard.
History is clearly in Nadal's favour considering he's won 68 percent of his grand slam finals to date and has lost just one set to Anderson in all four of their past encounters. Anderson celebrated his win as if he had won the championship, climbing into the first row of seats to his support group. The world No. 1 has had his fair share of injuries himself and any of his awesome wins mean a great deal.
The start of the year was nearly a different tennis universe, where neither Federer nor Nadal was expected to win any more majors.
Playing much faster and with more intensity, Nadal gave a big fist pump as he snatched a break for 2-0 and another two games later. Now they are a Nadal win away from evenly splitting the four Grand Slam titles of the year, and truly making it the year of Fedal.
This will be Nadal's 23rd career major final.
28th seed Anderson, at 6ft 8 inches the tallest ever major final, emerged out of the bottom half, which even at the time of the draw was the conspicuously weaker section. Anderson is ranked 32nd, the lowest-ranked Grand Slam finalist since No. 38 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the 2008 Australian Open and the lowest at the U.S. Open since the ATP rankings began in 1973. Below, SI's tennis experts make their pick and predictions for the 2017 U.S. Open men's final. From the fourth round on, he has hit more than 50 winners in each match.
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