Tennis

Nadal not obsessed with catching Federer

World No. 1 just wants to 'do it my way' as he trails three behind great rival's 19 Majors

Rafael Nadal described 2017 as "one of the best of his career" after winning a third US Open and 16th Grand Slam yesterday morning (Singapore time).

World No. 1 Nadal defeated South Africa's world No. 32 Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in a brutally one-sided final during which he did not face a break-point.

Nadal also claimed an unprecedented 10th French Open in June after finishing runner-up to Roger Federer at the Australian Open.

"In terms of results, this has been one of the best seasons of my career, of course," Nadal admitted of a year in which he won at least two Grand Slams for the fourth time in his career.

Had he gotten the better of Gilles Muller at Wimbledon, where he lost the final set of his fourth-round clash 15-13, the year might have been even more memorable.

"I have been winning titles, playing three finals of Grand Slams, so that's a lot. That's so difficult.

"The other Slam that I was not in the final, I lost the match 15-13 in the fifth to be in the quarter-finals.

"So it was a very competitive year for me. And, on clay, I won almost every match. Of course, it's an emotional season because I have been through tough moments in terms of injuries."

The 31-year-old shared the four Grand Slams with Federer this year - with the Swiss winning the Australian Open and a record eighth Wimbledon.

I have 16. So three is big difference. I really don't think much about these kinds of things. Rafael Nadal on whether he can match Roger Federer’s Grand Slam haul of 19 titles

Despite his success, catching the 19 Majors of Federer is not particularly high on Nadal's list of priorities.

"I really never thought much about that. I just do my way. He does his way. Let's see when we finish," he said.

"I have 16. So three is big difference. I really don't think much about these kinds of things.

"Well done for Roger that he is having an amazing season and well done for me because I'm having a great season, too.

"Tennis is not all about the Grand Slams, so there are tournaments to come and I'm excited about this last part of the season."

The success of the two great rivals is a far cry from the end of last year when Nadal was ranked at ninth in the world and Federer was 16th.

It was also a 2016 season that saw the injury-hobbled Nadal lose in the first round at the Australian Open, withdraw after two rounds of the French Open with a wrist problem, skip Wimbledon and exit the US Open in the last 16.

However, this year, Federer and Nadal have won five titles apiece and, yesterday, they were back at No. 1 and No. 2 in the world for the first time since 2011.

"I was surprised in January. Now I am not that much surprised," said Nadal.

"There are things that probably Roger and me share - that is passion for what we are doing, passion for tennis, passion for the competition and the spirit of improvement all the time."

Meanwhile, first-time Grand Slam finalist Anderson said that he felt relaxed going into the final, but was overwhelmed by the "conundrum" of Nadal's ruthless all-court game.

Although the same age as Nadal, the late-blooming South African was no match against an opponent contesting his 23rd Grand Slam final and fourth at Flushing Meadows.

"I thought I was hitting the ball very well. It was more the conundrum of playing Rafa as opposed to being in my first final," said Anderson.

- WIRE SERVICES

TennisUS OPENRoger Federer