Serena said goodbye, Alcaraz goes like the wind, Swiatek no surprises… It’s time to remember what’s left of the US Open, the final Grand Slam tournament of the season!
The 2022 US Open has made quite a splash before it even started. Because Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, announced that she would probably take the court for the last time, meaning that Arthur Ashe Stadium would turn into a huge farewell stage. There was a possibility that the 21-time slam champion Novak Djokovic would not be able to play the tournament, just like he did at the Australian Open this year. The Serbian star, as it is known, could not travel to the USA because he preferred not to be vaccinated, and this possibility came true. Four-time champion Rafael Nadal, on the other hand, was not in good form after an abdominal injury that prevented him from making the Wimbledon semi-finals, and moreover, he was waiting for his wife, Xisca, to give birth. So, it would be optimistic to think that the Spanish legend could give its focus 100 percent to the court. Season’s best player in women’s tennis, Iga Swiatek, came to the US Open as the number one favorite. Due to Djokovic’s absence and Rafa’s question marks, there was a more open image on the men’s side. Defensive champion Medvedev, teen phenomenon Carlos Alcaraz, Wimbledon surprise finalist Nick Kyrgios and a few others had notable opportunities. Now, let’s take a look at the leading actors of the pleasant two weeks…
Although Serena Williams is remembered for her 23 Grand Slam victories in singles, her contribution to the sport has always been far beyond that. Following in the footsteps of his colleagues who broke the gender and racial barriers in the history of tennis and carrying the flag he took from them even further in the modern era, the US racket decided to put an end to his career when he was approaching 41 years old. Williams, who lost all four slam finals after giving birth to her daughter Olympia in 2017 and missed Margaret Court’s record of 24 slams, heralded that she would enter a new phase in her life. Moreover, she refrained from using the word “retirement” while doing this, describing it as a “transformation” or “evolution”. Of course, when it comes to Serena, it wouldn’t surprise you to say that even as she started her new life, she was doing wonders on the court. The farewell of the legend, who beat Danka Kvinic in the first round and world number 2 Anett Kontaveit in the second round and struggled three sets with Ajla Tomljanovic in the third round, was a fitting farewell. Speaking of farewell; few are waiting for a sudden comeback like Serena’s Tom Brady. He even gives some signals in this direction.
It’s hard to predict what men’s tennis will look like on the day the Big Three are completely removed from the stage. This is because Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are still top performers at the Grand Slam level. Rafa started the season with the Australian Open-French Open double, while Novak deftly seized the opportunity at Wimbledon. Given the circumstances, it was a big surprise that the US Open was like a projection of the future.
With Djokovic’s absence and Nadal’s submission to Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round, the picture suddenly opened. So much so that there was not even a single Grand Slam champion among the last eight players. Attracting attention with the four tournaments he won this season and the tennis he played older than his age, 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz suddenly found himself in the favorite position. The young Spaniard, who played marathon matches with Marin Cilic in the last 16, Jannik Sinner in the quarterfinals and Tiafoe in the semi-finals, faced Norwegian Casper Ruud in the final. The stakes were high in the match where the winner would get both their first slam victory and world No.1. Carlitos showed signs of exhaustion from time to time, but he did his best and achieved the first of many possible major victories. The fact that Alcaraz is the youngest slam champion since Nadal and the youngest US Open winner since Pete Sampras already explains a lot. Now we have a superstar like a ball of light.
You are Big Iga
It’s been hard to find stability in women’s tennis since Serena Williams’ peak days are over. We’re used to seeing new champions at almost every Grand Slam, except for the short periods when Naomi Osaka and Ashleigh Barty made a comparatively difference. The victory of Emma Raducanu in New York last year was probably the pinnacle of this surprising structure. The 2022 of Iga Swiatek, who won the French Open in 2020 and passed 2021 below expectations, showed that this course could change. The young Pole, who had a winning streak of 37 games and six tournaments between February and July, came to the USA as the first favorite, although he stumbled at Wimbledon and afterwards. Although she stated that she found the balls played in the US Open to be light and did not like it very much, she was able to show her quality from beginning to end. World No. 1 scored the third major tournament victory of his career, with strong kicks and great footwork without even needing to hit his peak. Considering that he is only 21 years old, it will be easy for those who will try to bring him down from the top in the coming years.