The curtain closed on the US Open in scintillating fashion on Sunday and Monday, with two intense finals being played out, and two legends of the game emerging as more than worthy champions.
The tournament itself had its fair share of intrigue, with a number of upsets taking place on the way to the final two days, and no doubt the 2013 US Open will live long in the memory for tennis fans all over the globe. We thought we’d take this opportunity to dwell for a couple of minutes on some of the highs and lows at Flushing Meadows this year.
Serena wins her fifth title
Serena Williams did battle with Victoria Azarenka and came through the skirmish to win her fifth US Open title, as the American continues to plant herself firmly in the ‘legend’ category. Williams clinched a tight first set before losing in a tiebreak in the second and at that point many thought that the tide may have turned in Azarenka’s direction, but as she has done so many times in the past, Serena seemed to find an extra gear and won the third set comprehensively, with Azarenka only able to clinch one game.
Serena’s Grand Slam haul now stands on 17, and given her dominance of the women’s game right now, it wouldn’t be a massive surprise to see the American get close to or even surpass Margaret Court’s record of 24.
Rafa shows that he really is the king
As no doubt you’ve heard a million times this year, Rafael Nadal began 2013 still recovering from a knee injury that kept him out of the game for around 7 months. Fast forward to the end of the year and he’s picked up the French and US Open, climbed the rankings table to number two in the world, and won 60 matches out of a possible 63. What seemed like it could have been an annus horribilis for Rafa Nadal has no doubt turned into an annus mirabilis, and if the Spaniard can stay fit, it seems likely that the hulky man from Spain has got more titles in him.
In the end it was a relatively comfortable victory for Rafa against Novak Djokovic; a player who is always tough to beat regardless of his form. The world number one showed brief resistance by clinching the second set after Rafa had won the first, but it was the third set that was probably the turning point in the match. Djokovic was on top and held a 2-0 lead in the third, only for Rafa to fight back to win the set 6-4. From then on, it was a simple case of holding on for Rafa, and with Djokovic’s resistance broken, the Spaniard sailed home 6-1 in the fourth set.
Federer’s star fades…
We all know the danger of counting your chickens before they’ve hatched, but on the evidence of the US Open, record-breaking Roger Federer is now past his best. Tommy Robredo outclassed Federer in New York, and his US Open loss only followed on from his less than stellar performance at SW19 earlier in the summer. Federer has given tennis fans across the globe years of entertainment, and will always be regarded as one of the greats of the game, but it now seems like Federer can no longer really cut it in the Grand Slams.
Whilst his compatriots rises…
Perhaps the shock package of the US Open came in the form of 28-year old Stanislas Wawrinka. The world number 10 was in scintillating form in New York, and after a fantastic quarterfinal performance that disposed of the 2012 champion Andy Murray, many thought that Wawrinka could go all the way. The 2008 Olympic doubles champion had already overcome the considerable challenge of Tomas Berdych to reach the quarters, and his incredible victory against the Scot landed him a semifinal against none other than Novak Djokovic. The Serb eventually emerged victorious, but had to play five sets against the Swiss number two as Wawrinka picked up where he had left off against Murray.
If Wawrinka can build on these performances and come into next year’s season as he finished this year’s, then only a fool would bet him against him challenging for more Grand Slams in 2014.
Murray learns that it doesn’t get any easier
Andy Murray was on cloud 9 after winning Wimbledon, and the Scot didn’t seem to have come back down to earth for Flushing Meadows. The world number three’s performances lacked the industry of his great form at Wimbledon or even his form at last year’s US Open, and the British number one will now need to learn the hard way that just because you’ve become a Grand Slam champion, it doesn’t mean that it gets any easier. Despite his two Grand Slams, Murray isn’t quite at the level of Nadal, and will need to work very hard in the off-season if he is to add to his Grand Slam tally.
Time for a good old break
There’s no doubt that the tennis season is incredibly gruelling, and we could be forgiven for thinking that these guys have earned their rest. Not quite yet. The world’s elite will now do battle in the Davis Cup before hanging up the racket for a few weeks and heading somewhere hot. Then it’ll be back to the court to get ready for what promises to be one of the most hotly contested tennis seasons in living memory. I can hardly wait.