Trying to keep up with all the important matches and everything that’s being said and done during a Grand Slam event is a full time job for two weeks in itself. It gets harder when following the US Open from back home in Europe. It’s possible to catch some of the day games, but eventually the hard-disk recorder has to come in place. The next day it’s playing catch-up before the players awake in New York and start their new day of tennis.
Although it is an annoying way of keeping up with an event, this isn’t so much of a problem if you can sit in front of your TV for two weeks straight. However, when you have a ton of other things to take care of and relatives whom you only see once per year come over for the entire second week of the event, life can be tough for a freelance tennis writer.
I managed to watch everything that mattered over the course of the Open, but nothing is as draining for the mind as trying to take in a handful of tennis matches in fast forward mode, day after day.
So, to end the event in style, here are some quick notes on the precedings of the past fortnight.
King Fed rules again
Despite reaching the Montreal final and winning Cincinnati, Federer was far from playing his best tennis during the US Open Series. Especially in Cincinnati, judging from Federer’s standards, his form was shocking. Not only was his forehand erratic, the Swiss was slow off his feet and escaped in his matches against Baghdatis and Hewitt, but still managed to win the title.
From his first match in New York, it was clear that Federer had refound his form. But even though the three-time defending champion at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center was back in his routine of hitting forehand winners from every position on the court and producing the most incredible passing shots, John Isner and Feliciano Lopez managed to claw a set from the No.1 in the early rounds.
In the quarters, Federer did not create a single break point in his first two sets against Andy Roddick, who I’ve never seen play better, but he bested the Rod for the 14th consecutive time, not losing a set in the process.
Next up was Nikolay Davydenko, who continued his routine of going up an early break in a set against Federer, only to lose it 5-7 or 6-7. In the third set, Davydenko broke Federer’s serve three consecutive times, but still managed to drop it. Federer – Davydenko: 10-0.
Sunday’s final was of course a rematch of the recent Montreal encounter between Federer and Djokovic, where the Serb notched his career first win over Fed. Oh, and the Swiss lost the first set in that match after failing to close out a 6-5, 40-0 lead on his own serve.
So, what happened on Sunday? Both players cruised in their servicegames up until 5-all, when a couple of bad misses from Federer handed Djokovic the break. The Djoker took a 40-0 lead, Federer hit a forehand cross court winner on the line, and the Serb was done. Djokovic squandered a total of five set points that game, double faulting and erring his way to a tiebreak. Federer obviously sensed the tightness from his opponent, and coolly kept the ball in play, waiting for Djokovic to make the mistake. It was enough to win the opening set.
When Djokovic challenged a call on his second set point in the second set and saw his forehand was just a fraction long, you just knew where the night was heading. Federer took a two set lead by clinching another tiebreaker, and finished his opponent off in the third set, to become the first player to win the US Open four consecutive times.
Looking back to Montreal, it was Djokovic who kept his cool in the two tiebreakers that match had to offer, but the Serb experienced that staying calm at a Masters Series event is still a whole lot easier than finishing off in a Grand Slam final.
Rafa needs to watch his back
For the past two years the only way was up for Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard was locked in safely at No.2 and was becoming more and more of a challenger for Federer. Even though the No.1 spot has never been within immediate reach, Nadal was starting to look like a sureshot to become the game’s next best player. After another mediocre run on the summer hard courts, partly due to physical problems, and losing to Djokovic in Montreal, Nadal has to start worrying for his No.2 position. Rafa is 2300 points behind Federer in the rankings, whilst Djokovic is only 1100 short of the Spaniard.
Nole getting friendly with Maria
Was it a token of friendship, or was Sharapova’s support in Djokovic’s player’s box on Sunday more than just a thank you for the hilariously matching impersonation from the Djoker? I guess we can get forget about Roddapova now.
Djokovic certainly couldn’t complain about his entourage. There was some guy called Robert de Niro in his box, too.
Justine confirms No.1 position with outstanding run
She was already the world’s highest ranked player before the US Open, but after consecutively beating Serena and Venus Williams in straight sets en route to the title, and not dropping a single set in the entire event, the Belgian showed she is a class above the rest of the field. In the final, Henin outplayed ’04 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who scraped four games together in the entire match. It was the second US Open title for Henin, after winning the event for the first time in 2003.
Henin became just the second player, after Martina Hingis, to beat both Williamses in one event. For Henin, it was the first time she beat Serena on a hard court, whilst she notched only her second career win over Venus in the semis, having taken seven losses out of the eight times they played before. Even though the previous encounter against Venus dates back to the 2003 Australian Open, it’s still a remarkable achievement for Henin to overcome both sisters back-to-back on their home turf.
Kuzzie rises to No.2
Kuznetsova moves up to the No.2 position with her run to the final for the first time in her career. With all the talk about Henin, the Williamses and Serbian sensations Ivanovic and Jankovic throughout the course of the season, that is a pretty remarkable news fact. Saying Sveta will have a hard time holding on to her position would be the understatement of the year.
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