US Open - Tramlines: There's a new boss in town

Eurosport - Tue, 14 Sep 09:29:00 2010

Tramlines usually only lifts its head long enough on a Monday morning to bash out its thoughts on the previous week before returning to the business of watching up-and-coming youngsters intermittently trade forehand winners in Yemen.

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But, with the promise of an extra five minutes added to a suddenly-granted lunch break and with the excitement of another Monday finish at US Open, TL decided to make an exception.

Late on said thundery Monday night in New York, Rafael Nadal made history.

The Spaniard was already world number one and the holder of the French Open and Wimbledon titles, but after overpowering Novak Djokovic, he also became only the seventh man in history to win all four Grand Slam titles in his career.

Nadal could also go on to be the holder of all four majors simultaneously, albeit not in the same calendar year, if he can win the Australian Open when that swings around again in January.

The stats just keep on coming and before the inevitable debates begin about whether or not the affable Spaniard can surpass Roger Federer's admirable records, it's worth pausing to take in the magnitude of Nadal's achievements.

US Open - Final men

Okay, is that enough time?

Nadal, at 24, has won three more Slams than Federer had at the same age. He also completed the career Slam at an age four years younger than when the Swiss champion did it.

Few would argue with the assertion that Nadal is the greatest clay court player in the world - a 39-1 win-loss ratio at the French Open is all you need to know to prove that. Not to mention 24 other clay court titles he's picked up over the past six years.

But can he go on to win more Grand Slams than Federer? In another five or six years' time, will there even be a debate about the Greatest Of All Time - or will the answer unequivocally be "Rafael Nadal, of course"?

If Nadal manages to stay fit, there's no reason why he can't challenge Federer's record of 16 Grand Slam titles.

But is that a big if?

Probably not. It's certainly nowhere near as big as it was a year ago. Since Nadal returned from the worst of his knee troubles last year, he has been on a mission to win the US Open. A mission he has altered his game for. This tournament alone he has displayed a much-improved serve, evidenced by the fact that he was broken just three times in New York. With that more potent first serve he picks up more free points, leaving his knees alone to focus on fewer points that need the ever-speedy Nadal to bounce around the court.

You can't argue with the results as Nadal not only reached his first US Open final, he also won the title for the first time.

All this presupposes that Federer won't win further Grand Slam titles, which Tramlines thinks is rubbish. But give Nadal a few more years and we could bear witness to swathes of records that stand for decades.

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As has so often been the case, the women's US Open final proved to be another disappointing affair with one of the players failing to produce their best tennis when it really mattered.

Tramlines doesn't want to take away from Kim Clijsters's achievement; in fact it believes that the Belgian very much deserves her title as queen of New York having won the previous two US Opens she has competed in.

US Open : Kim Clijsters vs

But there is no questioning the fact that it was the most one-sided final in New York in 34 years, or that Vera Zvonareva, so impressive in her run to the final without conceding a set, mentally imploded after making a bright start to the match.

It was Zvonareva's second successive Grand Slam final; she was also trounced in the Wimbledon final two months ago. Yet the Russian appeared nervy and out of her depth in a match that could have been hers for the taking.

Rewind nine years and it was Clijsters on the receiving end of a Grand Slam final loss, the first of four that left fans wondering if the universally-popular Belgian would ever pick up a major title.

Despite enjoying a stint as world number one, Clijsters stumbled at the final hurdle once at the Australian Open, twice at Roland Garros and on one occasion at Flushing Meadows before she finally picked up her first US Open title in 2005.

But even after the Belgian had made her breakthrough in major tournaments she was talked about as being 'too nice' to win multiple tournaments, an argument only buoyed by Clijsters failing to win the Australian Open in 2006 or 2007 despite being the form player heading in the tournament.

Zvonareva can, and should, take heart from the words uttered by the ever-gracious Clijsters after the match.

When Clijsters says: "She has improved so much. Vera just keep it going, it will happen" - you know she means it wholeheartedly.

And the Belgian is right; Zvonareva is more than capable of winning a Grand Slam in the future if she can just produce the kind of tennis everyone knows she is capable of in the big matches.

Eurosport

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