What a US Open. The tournament started with constant buzz and ended with even more. The better Williams sister (sorry, Venus) cement-ed her status as an all-time great in the women’s game and Andy Murray, at long last, lifted the burden of a nation off his shoulders. There was so much that made this tournament alive and successful, so let’s get into it.
Murray a Champion, No Djoking Around: In the epic men’s final, Scot Andy Murray thwart-ed Serbian Novak Djokovic, 7-6 (10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2, to capture his first Grand Slam title and the first by a British man since 1936. The pres-sure had been on Murray for years. Ever since the gangly 20-year-old Murray reached the 2008 Australian Open Final against Roger Federer, the United Kingdom, and seemingly the world, had been waiting and hoping desperately for a title from him. We have seen the immense pressure get to him, though. From falling in four finals to crying during the post-match interviews, we can tell he wanted it as badly as his home country did. The pressure was evident Monday night as well. With six set points in the first, then losing the third and fourth sets, he was so close to being swept up by the pressure and once again squan-dering a final match. But this time, history didn’t repeat itself. Murray finally got over the hump, and it’s so thrilling to see his immense baggage disappear behind him. He now has the rest of his tennis life ahead of him to win for himself. It would not be surprising if Andy snags a few more Slams before he heads out the door.
Regardless of the final score, Djokovic is a champion in my mind. Despite the loss to Murray, he had a fantastic year, winning the Australian Open and making the French final, as well as giving it his all in this final. Granted, he did not play his best tennis in the first two sets, but, playing with a small injury, Djokovic battled back to a fifth. Coming back from two sets down to win a US Open is difficult, but to do it in back-to-back years is a real challenge. Novak’s post-match interview was a class act and along with his performance installed him as a fan favorite in Flushing Meadows for years to come.
Serena Can’t Be Stopped: Every time Serena Williams steps onto the court, she brings with her intimidation, power, passion and dedication to the tennis game. Serena has been so competi-tive in recent years; we’ve seen her lose her cool with the judges in Opens past. What impressed me about Serena’s magnificent title run is not her excellent play, but rather her incredible self-con-trol. During her final match against top-seeded Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, Williams had her back against the wall. This match was undoubt-edly one of the best in years, especially compared to the past few stinkers of women’s US Open finals, featuring an extremely high level of ten-nis from both players. Williams never let her emotions take over her game, and it showed near the end of the final. She flat out dominated her opponents up until the final, losing only 19 games, 0 sets and allowing just two breaks. When she finally faced a formidable opponent, she held tough and earned her fourth US Open title and her fifteenth Grand Slam singles title. Serena can now add a new facet to her reper-toire: longevity. She has lasted through 13 years on the WTA, surviving injuries (most notably a horrible foot injury last year) and winning 30 combined Grand Slam titles. Certainly, she will take her place in the list of all-time women professional tennis players.
Leaving the States in Uncertainty: Much of the hype in the early rounds of the US Open came when American Andy Roddick abruptly announced that the Open would be his last tournament. It’s such a shame to see him go, but I do think that it is the right time. Rod-dick jumped into the professional tennis scene at 18 and many thought he would be the next great American to take over. Especially after his US Open win in 2003, expectations were high, but it is has just been a disappointment from there on out. I’m not hating on Roddick; he did have a spectacular career and did make it to four other Grand Slam finals. However, there had never been a time where I could personally say in confidence that I believed that Andy Rod-dick would win a major tournament. I’m sure he did feel pressured though, with the lack of support of dominant American players on the senior circuit.
With his retirement comes an intensely dis-arrayed state of American tennis. By default, the man of the hour will be John Isner, the big-serving giant who as of now is ranked tenth on the tour. Isner has shown flashes of dominance, but he hasn’t advanced past a quarterfinal of any Grand Slam tournament. And who is after him? Sam Querrey? Ryan Harrison? Brian Baker? If anyone, it would be Mardy Fish, but I do not see him overcoming his unfortunate heart problem and getting back to the high level of tennis he was playing before his condition became appar-ent. Either way, it might be a tough going for American tennis the next few years.
So Long, Kim: The retiring player who flew under-the-radar throughout the Open was Kim Clijsters, the four-time major champion. With her second-round loss in the singles tournament, Clijsters says goodbye to a glorified career and goes back to being a mother. Right now, she de-serves the praise. Ranked number one in 2003, Clijsters dominated the tennis scene for a long time, winning her first Slam in 2005. After leav-ing in 2007, she came back two years later, won the US Open as an unseeded player and quickly rose to number one. How resilient is she? Cli-jsters was a force in the women’s game and her retirement should not go unnoticed. She was a star and a face of the WTA for many years, and the tour was always successful with her presence on the court.
For the Wind: Did anyone see the gusting winds during Andy Murray’s semifinal match versus Tomas Berdych? If you didn’t realize it was windy, you might have gotten a clue after seeing plastic bags flying through the air, Mur-ray’s hat falling off or the entire chair set next to the umpire falling over onto the court. As debilitating as it was to the match, it was pretty hysterical. On a serious note, the wind heavily affected Berdych; the high-tossing, big-serving Czech had a rough day out in the wind against Murray. Had Arthur Ashe Stadium had a roof, Andy might still carry the pressure of his na-tion on his shoulders. The wind is a glaring in-dication that the USTA needs to install a roof over the stadium. The US Open should play like the Grand Slam that it is and not any old public tennis court. If the tournament wants to catch up to Wimbledon and the French Open, the USTA might want to consider taking the horrible conditions out of the matches.
Contact Andrew Vojt at [email protected]