Nada vs. Anderson


Nada vs. Anderson at Us Open

One by one, over the course of several weeks, the top male tennis players dropped out of the United States Open because of injuries.

It started with Novak Djokovic in July and eventually included stars like Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Andy Murray, who bowed out of the Open

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48 hours before the first ball was struck.

What was left was a muddled draw with one principal attr

action: a possible semifinal matchup between top-seeded Rafael Nadal and No. 3 Roger Federer, who had never played at the U.S. Open. When Federer lost in the quarterfinals, that hope was dashed, too.

But with all the chaos and general lack of star power, some semblance of order Friday was maintained when Nadal reached the U.S. Open final again.

In a semifinal that many felt was the de facto final, Nadal mercilessly ran No. 24 Juan Martín del Potro of Argentina into exhaustion, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2, in Arthur Ashe Stadium to reach his 23rd Grand Slam final. On Sunday, Nadal will face No. 28-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa, who will be playing his first Grand Slam final.

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Anderson, 31, beat the 12th-seeded Pablo Carreño Busta, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4, in the first semifinal of the day, which had a distinct warm-up act feel to it.

The marquee event came later in an intriguing matchup between del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion still working his way back from multiple wrist surgeries, and Nadal, a winner here in 2010 and 2013 who is starting to look as good as he did in those years.

Kevin Anderson in his semifinal win over Pablo Carreño Busta. Anderson will play his first Grand Slam final at 31. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

“I was playing so-so at the beginning of the tournament,” Nadal, 31, said, “and I have been playing better and better every day.”

That does not bode particularly well for the oft-injured Anderson. He possesses a powerful serve that could theoretically trouble Nadal in their fifth head-to-head encounter on Sunday. But Nadal won their four previous meetings and has the experience of winning 15 major titles, second only to Federer’s 19. He also earned his 15th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal victory, a streak that began after del Potro beat at the U.S. Open in 2009.

Nadal has played much of the year like a rejuvenated champion, reaching the Australian Open final, where he lost to Federer, and soaring during the clay season to notch his record 10th French Open.

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