The opening set lasted 58 minutes that suggested it was competitive but the majority of that time was taken up by Anderson’s service games and once he was broken in the seventh game, Nadal never looked back.
He secured a second break to seal the opening set and as the Spaniard has so many times in his career, he never relinquished the lead.
Anderson briefly rallied in the third set but never made it count on the scoreboard and Nadal breezed through to take his Grand Slam tally to 16 and join Ivan Lendl and Fred Perry as three-time US Open winners.
Nadal had never been beaten by Anderson and only dropped a single set to him, but the big-serving South African showed he was prepared to go toe-to-toe with his opponent from the baseline.
The cross-court backhand in particular fired well in the opening set, which lasted nearly an hour, but like a boxer landing early, draining body-blows, Nadal made him serve for what felt like hours.
The first five games took 35 minutes but only nine of the points were played on Nadal’s serve with more than 40 off Anderson’s racket.
He saved break point after break point but so many of his problems were self-inflicted – he served four double-faults and hit 24 unforced errors while only winning 66 per cent of points behind his first serve. For a man who had served 114 US Open 2017 aces before the match started, it was a crutch he badly needed back.
But it was as much because Nadal was sitting almost as deep as he possibly could to receive serve, sometimes even sitting deeper off the second serve.
The breaks which Anderson had somehow resisted in the early stages eventually came in game seven and game nine as the floodgates appeared to have finally opened.
In fact, Anderson seemed to settle into the match more when the second set started, twice holding comfortably to give him some sort of belief in the match.
But he still could not get much of a racket in the Nadal serve, even if the aces weren’t flowing for the Spaniard who make just one in the first two sets.
The relentless pressure of minimal breaks between eventual told as Nadal, as he so often does, sensed the right moment to attack.
The grunting grew louder and at break point, he charged the net, making two stunning reflex volleys to seal it and draw a huge fist pump from Nadal, who soon closed out the set with his fourth love service game.
Anderson should have been freed up by the two-set deficit but Nadal, yet again showing his pugilistic spirit by pouncing on the swaying South African, broke immediately.
The point that heralded the break was a neat microcosm for the match as Nadal hit a return from many feet behind the baseline that just dipped over the net and Anderson biffed the forehand long.
There was the briefest of brief lulls in the middle of the third set, but it came when Nadal was already two sets and break up and already thinking about which bar he might celebrate at in New York.
When he does, it could be the last time he does so with Toni Nadal having been up in the stands. His uncle will step down from tour tennis next year after spending his nephew’s whole career on the road.
By the looks of this performance, Nadal is still a few years from following him out to pasture.