US Open 2017: Kevin Anderson vs. Rafael Nadal Championship Prediction

 

Kevin Anderson vs. Rafael Nadal

On paper, this is a bigger mismatch than the men’s Wimbledon final in July or the men’s Roland Garros final in June.  Those matches turned out to be less than competitive.  To get to the point, does Kevin Anderson have a chance?

Sure, he does if ….

  • He is more or less unbreakable on serve.   Anderson doesn’t need to hit all aces and service winners (although I am sure he’d take that), but he needs to set up easy put aways with big serves.  If he gets deep into sets on serves or sneaks out a break on Nadal, the pressure in that set will shift to the favorite.
  • He plays a bit like Wawrinka did at the 2014 Australian Open final and puts Nadal on his heels.
  • He finds the odd and difficult balance needed to embrace the moment.  If Anderson plays tentatively or strikes wildly at the ball to start the match, he will likely let Nadal get out in front.  Big serving can help him avoid bad service games, but finding the right level of intensity is key for Anderson.
  • It would not hurt Anderson if the roof closes at some point in the match.  Rafa did not like the roof being closed earlier in the event, and Anderson’s closest loss to Nadal came at the Paris Indoor.

Will Nadal Win?

Probably.  Nadal has had a workable draw and done solid work over 6 matches. Anderson is tall and serves huge.  If Rafa lets expectations get to him, makes a few more errors than usual, serves in a manner that allows for Anderson to tee off on some second serves, and returns from too defensive of a position, Rafa can lose.  However, that is a lot of Ifs that have to go in Anderson’s direction and that have to go against Rafa.  I think Anderson could do all of the bulleted items and still lose this match.  He will also likely need Rafa to be a little off of his game.

My Prediction

How can I not pick the guy who has a lot fewer ifs?  If Nadal plays at his normal level, he has an excellent chance at winning.  My gut suspects this match may be closer than most expect and that maybe Anderson even finds a way to the winner’s circle, but the rest of me is sold on Nadal winning in 3 or 4 sets.

Rafael Nadal d. Kevin Anderson 6-7, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2

to win his 3rd US Open title

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