Golden boy Nadal reaches US Open final
Originally published on: 12/09/10 01:24
For what is widely regarded to be his toughest assignment, winning the one Grand Slam title missing from his collection on the lightning-quick courts of the US Open, Rafael Nadal has made the run to his first final this year look remarkably easy.
The world No.1 posted a sixth straight-sets victory of the fortnight, besting Mikhail Youzhny 6-2 6-3 6-4 with to move one match from a historic ninth Grand Slam title. Should he win Sunday’s final against either Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic, Nadal will become just the seventh man to win all four majors during his career, and join Andre Agassi as just the second to complete the quartet and win Olympic gold.
“For me it’s a dream to be in the final here for the first time,” said Nadal. “After a lot of work, I am here in the final so I am very happy for that. I tried to be aggressive and my serve has been working well. Maybe he was a little bit more tired than me today.”
It was another virtually flawless display at this year’s US Open from Nadal – well, almost flawless. With the final within touching distance, the Spaniard dropped serve for only the second time in the tournament – a monumental statistic by any player’s standards, but all the more impressive from one whose serve has in the past been dismissed as a point-starter and little else.
Having won four of their previous eleven meetings, Youzhny is one of a select crop of man who have proven problematic for Nadal in the past, but the Spaniard may have had a point when he touched on the No.12 seed’s gruelling run to the semi-finals. It is cruel to write off a player’s challenge as early as the fourth game of a five-set match, but when Nadal broke, he broke more than the Russian’s serve.
Youzhny stuck to his game plan, attacking the forehand to open the court and force Nadal to hit backhands on the run, but couldn’t outmanoeuvre the Spaniard often enough to trouble him. Nadal, similarly, set about breaking down Youzhny’s forehand to produce the short ball.
An early break in the third looked to have made victory a formality for Nadal, but Youzhny rallied to break back in game eight to the delight of the Arthur Ashe crowd. It was a short respite, with Nadal breaking back immediately and serving out the match.
“I cannot say I’m really tired, but I was not fast enough today,” admitted Youzhny. “My decision was not really fast. I was moving well, but my head was one step back of my hand and my legs.”