Sunday 18 March 2018 / 05:11 AM


Via US Open Media

Rafael Nadal won his third US Open men’s singles title with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 victory over first-time finalist Kevin Anderson inside Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The win gave the 31-year-old Spaniard his 16th Grand Slam crown, the second-most of all time behind only Roger Federer, who won his 19th earlier this summer at Wimbledon.

Nadal is now one of only six players in the Open era to win at least three US Open men’s singles championships, along with Federer, Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors, who have five each; John McEnroe, who has four; and Ivan Lendl, who won three.

“Been a great two weeks,” Nadal said after his triumph. “Increasing level of tennis, increasing of confidence during that two weeks. Yeah, I have this trophy with me again here in New York. There is no better way to finish the Grand Slam season for me after a very emotional season in all aspects.

“So very happy the way that I played, happy the way that I managed the pressure, and the way that I was competing during the whole event. Playing better or worse, the competitive spirit have been there in a very positive way all the time.”

Meanwhile, Sloane Stephens, the 24-year-old American who earlier this year was confined to a wheelchair after foot surgery and 11 months off tour, won her first major, the US Open, on Saturday.

The unseeded Stephens, who was ranked No. 957 at the start of the summer and is now at No. 83 in the world, crushed her close friend and fellow Grand Slam debutante, 15th-seeded Madison Keys, 6-3, 6-0, in just one hour of play.

The two shared an emotional, teary hug at net. Stephens then raised her arms in a look of disbelief. Surely she too was stunned at the turn her career had taken in just a few short weeks.

After the tears, Stephens and Keys, 22, shared an extended, giggling chat as they waited for the championship ceremony. Stephens got up from her chair to join her friend on the sideline.

“I told Maddie I should just retire now,” said Stephens. “It’s never going to get better than this. ”

Stephens held her nerve and played controlled and consistent tennis, hitting loopy topspin ground strokes deep into the court to counter Keys’ powerful weapons and force her into a rash of unforced errors. Stephens, known for her athleticism and fleet-footed movement, zipped smoothly around the back of the court, making Keys hit more balls than she was comfortable doing on a day in which she was unable to summon her best game.

“It’s incredible,” said Stephens. “I had surgery Jan. 23. If someone had told me then that I would win the US Open, ‘It’s impossible,’ I would say. This journey has been incredible, and honestly I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

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