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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Rejuvenated Nadal can ease to a third New York crown

Anderson could crumble under the pressure

Rafael Nadal is a warm order to win his second Grand Slam of the season
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US Open men's: Nadal v Anderson 
Eurosport 1, 9pm Sunday

The resurgence of Rafael Nadal has been an extraordinary tale - he ended a three-year spell without Grand Slam success by claiming his record-setting tenth title at Roland Garros in June - and the world number one should round off a perfect season with victory over Kevin Anderson in the US Open final.

The Spaniard started his Major campaign with defeat to old foe Roger Federer in Melbourne, before racing to success in the French Open without dropping a set, and his heroics in New York over the past fortnight have shrugged off concerns regarding his ability to handle faster conditions as well as he once did.

Nadal is a two-time winner at Flushing Meadows - his latest triumph came four years ago - but he hasn't won a hard-court ranking title since clinching a minor event in Doha in 2014.

However, his performances in America have improved round by round and the closer Nadal gets to claiming a 16th Grand Slam title, the more determined he seems to have become.

Nadal dropped sets in his opening two wins over Taro Daniel and Leonardo Mayer but since then the bar has been raised and he was ruthless in dispatching a weary Juan Martin del Potro 4-6 6-0 6-3 6-2 in Friday's semi-final. 

Del Potro's huge serve and devastating forehand caused the Majorcan plenty of problems in the opening set and if Anderson can trap with the same urgency, he has the ability to make it a contest.

However, the towering South African looked nervy in the early exchanges against Nadal's compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta - he was forced to come from a set behind - and, in his debut Grand Slam final, a fast start may be beyond him.

The world number one has won all four meetings between the between the pair, dropping just one set in the process, and it's unlikely Anderson has the overall game to spring a surprise.

The 28th seed made 43 unforced errors in his semi-final triumph - 18 more than Carreno Busta - and the longer a rally goes on, the more likely Nadal is to win the point.

The Spaniards record in Grand Slam showdowns is exceptional - he has lost just seven of his 22 final encounters - and for Anderson this is unfamiliar territory.

The South African has done well to reach his maiden final but the bottom half of the draw opened up for him - he has yet to face a top-ten seed - and the occasion may ultimately weigh him down.

Nadal can win and punters should expect him to pile the pressure on early against a potentially anxious Anderson.

R Nadal to win 3-0
1pt Evs Hills
Under 10.5 games in the first set
2pts 1-2 bet365

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The Spaniard has lost just seven of his 22 final encounters and for Anderson this is unfamiliar territory
E.W. Terms
Sky bet