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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a shot against Kevin Anderson of South Africa during their Men's Singles finals match on Day Fourteen during the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2017 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA)

Watch: Rafael Nadal Beats Kevin Anderson For Third US Open Title

Though Rafael Nadal began the 2017 Grand Slam season with a 2.5-year drought during which he didn’t even reach a major final, he bounced back to defeat Kevin Anderson at the US Open on Sunday.

Rafael Nadal vs. Kevin Anderson US Open Final Score

The 31-year-old Spaniard — and World No. 1 — overcame his South African opponent 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 to claim his third trophy at Flushing Meadows after previously winning in 2010 and 2013.

“Of course, after a couple of years without competing at this very high, high level,” Nadal said, “very happy to be back.”


Nadal, who is now a 16-time Grand Slam champion, only lost three sets at this year’s US Open. The Spaniard has battled knee and wrist problems in the last few years, which is why 2015 and 2016 were his first seasons without reaching at least one Grand Slam final since 2004, when he was a teenager.

“I mean, I’ve always said he’s one of the, obviously, greatest players of our sport, obviously feeling very confident,” said the 6-foot-8 Anderson, the tallest player to reach a men’s singles final at a Grand Slam. “He seems to have turned around a lot of those injuries he’s experienced the last couple of years. I guess time will tell on that.”

The 31-year-old Anderson — ranked No. 32 and previously the No. 28 seed in the US Open — had never advanced past the quarterfinals at any major tournament in 33 previous appearances.

Not since Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2000 had a man won a Slam tournament without facing any opponents ranked in the top 20.

On Sunday, Nadal never faced a break point and won all 16 of his volleys, while Anderson finished 16 of 34 in that category. The Spaniard also recorded 30 winners and 11 unforced errors.

At 3-3, 30-all, Anderson double-faulted to offer up Nadal’s fifth break point of the match, then hit a forehand wide.

Per Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated, Nadal earned $3.7 million for his victory, same as this year’s women’s champion at Flushing Meadows, American Sloane Stephens. Stephens defeated compatriot Madison Keys 6-3, 6-0 on Saturday.

Nadal is next scheduled to play in China and Switzerland in October, as well as the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November.

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 10: Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a shot against Kevin Anderson of South Africa during their Men’s Singles finals match on Day Fourteen during the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2017 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA)

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Written by Pablo Mena