World No 1 Rafael Nadal sealed his 16th Grand Slam title and third at the US Open after making light work of Kevin Anderson in Sunday’s final.
The top-seeded Nadal also won the French Open in June and claimed two major titles in the same year for the first time since his last triumph at Flushing Meadows in 2013.
World No 32 Anderson was attempting to become the lowest-ranked champion in New York since Andre Agassi in 1994, but the dominant Spaniard, appearing in his 23rd Grand Slam final, including third this season, was in a different league and blitzed the South African to win 6-3 6-3 6-4.
Nadal lost just 15 points on serve in the match and did not face a single break point in a dominant win.
“Of course it’s a very special two weeks for me,” said Nadal. “It’s unbelievable what happened this year after a couple of years with some troubles, injuries, moments playing not good.
“Since the beginning of the year it has been very emotional, and to close the Grand Slam year by winning in New York, I just can say thank you to life for that opportunity and thank you to my team and my family and everybody.”
First-time finalist Anderson, who stands 6ft 8in, was bidding to become his country’s first Grand Slam champion since Johan Kriek at the 1981 Australian Open, but Nadal was proving to be a different proposition altogether right from the outset.
Nadal spurned four breaks points before taking his fifth opportunity in the seventh game and then broke Anderson’s serve again to close out the set 6-3 in just under an hour.
The confidence was flowing from the Spaniard by now and he fired down 14 winners, making just two unforced errors, on his way to a replica scoreline of the opening set.
With four titles this year, including a Grand Slam at Roland Garros, Nadal raised the intensity of his game as the tournament progressed, and peaked by the time he met Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-finals.
Nadal was in ruthless mood by the start of the third set and an early break allowed him to stretch his advantage. He soon completed the job, despite a nervy final service game, to become King of New York once again.
Victory in two hours and 27 minutes for Nadal ensured he recorded his first success in a hardcourt event since Doha in 2014, a run of 34 tournaments that included eight finals.
And he once again closed to within three of Roger Federer’s all-time record of 19 Grand Slam singles titles, while the ‘Big Four’ can now lay claim to 46 of the last 51 majors.
“I really want to congratulate Rafa,” said runner-up Anderson. “I know we’re the same age but I feel like I’ve been watching you my whole life. You’ve been an idol of mine. It’s tough to play you but you’re one of the greatest ambassadors for our sport.
“It’s been an amazing two weeks. Last year was difficult, it’s tough to be injured and the competition is so strong so to come back and make my first final, it’s been a really special two weeks. This isn’t the result I wanted but I’ll keep fighting and I’ll be back.”