Rafa Unstoppable




Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

Top-seeded Rafael Nadal sent home No. 12 Mikhail Youzhny 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 to reach his first US Open final on Saturday and set up the first half of his sport’s dream match-up — Nadal vs. Roger Federer for a Grand Slam title. Nadal is 5-2 against Federer in Grand Slam finals but they have never met in Flushing Meadows, where Federer has five championships but Nadal had never even reached the final until now.

“For me it’s a dream,” Nadal said. “I will be playing for the first time in a US open final, in the biggest centre court of the world.”

Looking to complete the career Grand Slam, Nadal came to the US Open, both mentally and physically fresh, as he’s ever been. He also came with a serve that’s been either revamped or tweaked or something in between and it has made a difference, allowing more easy points for tennis’ ultimate grinder.

Nadal won 13 of his 14 service games against Youzhny and through six matches. He still hasn’t lost a set, and Youzhny barely could be seen controlling him. The Russian, playing in his second career Grand Slam semi-final, was coming off a 4.5 hour, five-set win over Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in the quarter finals.

He came in with a respectable 4-7 win-loss record against Nadal, but from the beginning of this meeting, it never looked like the ball would be in his court. Nadal and Youzhny played on a day where the flag above Arthur Ashe Stadium flew at half-staff, on the 9th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks across the river in Manhattan.

In his post-match interview on court, Nadal showed his support for the victims of 9-11 and their families. “This is a very special day for everybody,” he said.

Youzhny got his single break of serve to pull to 4-4 in the third set. But immediately, Nadal struck back, then served it out for the win and saw himself one match away from becoming the seventh man to round out a collection of major championships. He has 8 so far: 5 at the French, 2 at Wimbledon and 1 at the Australian in 2009, where he beat Federer in 5 sets — the last time they met in a Grand Slam.

Nadal is seeking to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the French, Wimbledon and the US Open in the same year. Rafael lost in the semi-finals in 2008 and 2009. This year, Rafa says, is different. Before the semis, he had said: “Man, I’m great. Last year, I was in the semis, and that was close to a miracle. This year has been the opposite.

“When you’re in a perfect state, there’s a different perspective,” said Nadal, who turned 24 earlier this year.“I’m happy, because everything has turned out great with my physical form. Without being healthy, you cannot aspire to do anything great. He had defeated compatriot Fernando Verdasco in the quarter finals. Federer also advanced to the semi-finals without losing a set.

By: Devesh D. Bhuwad

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