2017 Yearender: The sports desk's picks - 18 of our favourite moments

Clay king rules on hard court

Rafael Nadal's La Decima was special. Winning a 10th Roland Garros crown was expected and of no surprise to many. It was the stuff of dreams for fans of the Spaniard.

For this fan, however, the backhand volley winner that sealed Nadal's US Open victory was special.

Never mind that the 31-year-old was the top seed and his opponent in the final was No. 28 seed Kevin Anderson.

The US Open was Nadal's 16th Grand Slam title, his fourth hard-court major crown and his first hard-court title since January 2014.

Nadal's best surface may be the red dirt - 53 of his 75 career singles titles were won on clay - but he has shown repeatedly he can find ways to win anywhere.

And there was nothing quite like that victory in New York for me.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 30, 2017, with the headline 'Clay king rules on hard court'. Print Edition | Subscribe