By Senji Torrey
Public Relations Manager
After making stops in Australia, England, and France, the Grand Slam tennis tour made its way to the U.S. for the final showdown of the year. With so much at stake for so many players, this year’s U.S. Open was one for the books.
Before the tournament even began, the entirety of the women’s division was able to breathe a sigh of relief when six-time U.S. Open winner Serena Williams opted out of the event, citing her recovering torn hamstring. However, this relief was short-lived as Japanese-American star Naomi Osaka chose to compete despite speculation of her taking a mental health check during this time.
On the men’s side of the court, the biggest storyline going into the competition was Serbian Novak Djokovic’s potential Calendar-Year Grand Slam title. Often mistaken by casual sports fans with the Career Grand Slam, the Calendar-Year achievement is excessively rare. Since the four-tourney event began, only five players have ever completed this feat.
This year’s tournament got started as expected for the women. Out of the 64 first round matchups, only three ranked players lost to unranked players. Key moments included Osaka’s two set sweep over Serbian Marie Bouzková and 17-year old American phenom Coco Gauff’s win against Polish-native Magda Linette.
For the men, the first round provided a mixed bag of both startling and foreseeable outcomes. British golden boy Andy Murray unsurprisingly lost his matchup against third-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas, however, the name recognition did make this defeat a bit more pronounced.
Perhaps the biggest upset, however, was U.S. Maxime Cressy’s victory over Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta. Despite most fans not knowing these two player’s names, the fact that this is Cressy’s first Grand Slam tournament and Busta’s sixth — along with Busta’s ninth-place world ranking at the time — makes this U.S. victory that much sweeter and unforeseen.
In the third round of the women’s competition, Osaka — still heavily favored at this point — faced off against unranked Canadian newcomer Leylah Fernandez. Despite the ostensive mismatch of this pairing, the game quickly turned from a clinical victory for Osaka into a passing of the torch, at least for this tournament. In a hard-fought final 10-game set, Fernandez came out on top by a score of six games to four.
This victory put the rest of the competitors on notice, but the pressure evidently did not get to this young Canadian. In her next match against German powerhouse Angelique Kerber, Fernandez breezed to a 2-1 set victory. She would go on to defeat fifth-ranked Swede Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals and second-ranked Belurusian Aryana Sabalenka in the semifinals.These four unbelievable victories set Fernandez up for her finals matchup against British-born youngster Emma Raducanu, who has also made a name for herself during this U.S. Open. Unfortunately for Fernandez, this match did not go her way. Raducanu eradicated Fernandez in just two sets, winning by a score of 6-4 and 6-3.
Flipping over the men’s side, top-ranked Djokovic simply took care of business. Without the competition of the Swiss Roger Federer or Spanish Rafael Nadal, the Serbian’s biggest competition came in the form of the fourth-ranked German Alexander Zverev, who Djokovic beat handily by a set score of 3-2.
The men’s finals match pitted number one ranked Djokovic against the second-ranked Russian-native Daniil Medvedev. This event would prove to take a turn for the favorited Serbian virtuoso, as the Russian Medvedev wiped the scoreboard clean with a 3-0 set win.
This loss stole Djokovic’s chance to reach rarified air as a Calendar-Year Grand Slam Champion, but as he explained after the defeat, “Even though I have not won the match, my heart is filled with joy and I am the happiest man alive.”
(Sources: Reuters, WTA Tour, Sports Keeda, ATP Tour)