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Nadal champ at US Open

Rafael Nadal entered the 2017 Grand Slam season on a 2 1/2-year drought without so much as one appearance in a major final, let alone a title. He ends it having reasserted himself, capped by a U.S. Open final that shaped up as quite a mismatch — and turned out to be exactly that.

His game at a higher level than it needed to be by the end of an unusually easy path through the field, Nadal overwhelmed Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday to win his third championship at Flushing Meadows.

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

The No. 1-ranked Nadal collected his 16th Grand Slam trophy overall and at his news conference, he wore a white T-shirt listing the date and site of each one. Among men, only Roger Federer has more, with 19. Each of those two longtime rivals won two of the four majors this season, marking their return to the heights of their sport.

Nadal has dealt with knee and wrist problems, both likely a result of his physical brand of play, over his career, but 2015 and 2016 were his first seasons without reaching at least one Grand Slam final since 2004, when he was still a teenager.

Seems safe to say that, at age 31, he is once again the Nadal of old.

"I mean, I've always said he's one of the, obviously, greatest players of our sport, obviously feeling very confident," Anderson said. "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."



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