Nadal on track for 'luckiest' slam win ever?

US Open 2017 Men's Singles Final | Rafael Nadal starts as overwhelming favorite against Kevin Anderson in title clash

In doing so, Anderson become the first South Africa to reach the US Open final since tennis' Open era began in 1968, and the first South African to reach any Grand Slam final since Kevin Curren at 1984 Australian Open.

He was expected to have been pushed hard by 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro, who knocked out Federer in the last eight, when they met in Friday's semi-finals.

In the hallway just off the court on Friday night, with the U.S. Open and the Grand Slam tennis season tilting into their last fumes, Toni Nadal took a look at that season. Nadal has a lifetime 4-0 record against Anderson entering Sunday's final, but Anderson has in his favor a distinct size advantage and a whale of a serve.

In order to land his maiden Grand Slam title, Anderson will have to accomplish something he's yet to do in his ATP Tour career: beat the 15th-time Major champion.

"It pretty much happens after every match regardless of the circumstances", said Anderson after a first round loss at Wimbledon in 2015 had many on social media baying for his blood. "But still, a great season for me", the 31-year-old added. "He has played really good during the season and" - a quick laugh here, as if stating the obvious - "he played really well at Roland Garros, was his best".

Sunday will be also an emotional occasion for Nadal's coach since childhood, his uncle Toni, who will retire from life on the road at year's end to devote himself to his nephew's academy in Mallorca. "It means everything to be back here on this wonderful court in front of this unbelievable crowd", Nadal said during an on-court interview with ESPN.

15 - consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals Nadal has now won.

Both semi-finalists benefited from a depleted bottom half of the draw, which opened up when injured Scottish world No.2 Andy Murray withdrew from the tournament prior to his first match and sixth-ranked German Alexander Zverev suffered an upset in the second round.

By the time Nadal had pulled out a 3-0 lead, there was little opposition for him across the net.

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"Lucky", del Potro acknowledged later.

He may not be ranked near the top or have as many titles, but there is no doubt that del Potro is a top-level player.

"I think it started on the clay courts, getting more matches under my belt. I had flu during the week", he added.

"Getting to this final means the world to me, I'm on cloud nine", said the giant South African after beating Spain's Pablo Carrano Busta in just under three hours. The missing stars did give lower-ranked players a chance to make a serious run, and that is just what Anderson was able to accomplish.

"It's a very tough one". That's something I have always been looking, you know, at any edge I can get.

"I've been forced to kind of protect my service games".

"This has been an wonderful season after a couple of years with some troubles, injuries, tough moments", Nadal said after beating Del Potro.

After a successful college stint in the United States at the University of Illinois, Anderson's professional career had been one of peaks and troughs. 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. He really controls the court well, the few times I have played him.



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