Rafael Nadal’s run to a 13th Grand Slam didn’t go through all of the heavyweights in the game of men’s tennis right now.
It did, however, showcase that – when healthy – Nadal is still one of those big guns out there.
“Rafa” picked apart Novak Djokovic in New York, scoring a four-set victory that included an easy 6-1 game-winning set.
Nadal had an up-and-down year to say the least, but when you look back at it as a whole, it was once again among the best.
He lost to a played ranked No. 135 in the world at Wimbledon, but the grass courts of London were not where he needed to be with his wounded knees, anyway.
Instead, Nadal was able to get to his third-home in the hard courts, a place where he owns 10 titles and a 22-0 record on. Of course, his true tennis home is clay, but he has been able to adjust his game from clay to hard surfaces like no one before him.
Long rallies were no issue for the 27-year-old Spaniard, as he continually battled back and forth with the younger Djokovic, who many consider the top athlete in the world for his ability to weather storms and win the long points.
Is this Nadal the same one that flirted with winning all four majors and being the top-ranked player in the world? Doubtful, as he just can’t do it on grass anymore.
But, this version of Rafa seems smarter and knows when to rest and when to push; that could lead him to surpass Roger Federer’s mark of 17 slams if “Fed” can’t get his game back on track soon.
Speaking of the U.S. Open, Serena Williams made it look easy once again, dominating in NYC like only she can.
The victory came 14 years after Williams first delighted the “Big Apple” by defeating Kim Clijsters, Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis en route to her first major title.
Flash forward 14 years later and it was Serena once again lifting the trophy after her three-set triumph vs. world No. 2 Victoria Azarenka.
For Williams, who is now just one more win behind tying Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert atop the list of all-time major victories with 18, to still be competing at her age is incredible.
For her to still be winning, and winning with relative ease, is out of this world.
Serena Williams has shown an ability to continually over-match and over-power the younger generation of the tennis world. Even when she appeared to be wilting in the heat, the veteran dug down and rose back up to the challenge.
Williams’ record in Grand Slam finals is one that will never be challenged, as she is 17-4 all-time. That kind of experience cannot go unnoticed when it comes to tennis and the pressure-points.
Serena has been there. Serena has done that. And there isn’t anyone in the game right now that can match her.