Some closing comments on a most-excellent finish to the US Open…
1. Novak Djokovic Ended With A Better Grand Slam Season Than Serena Williams!
That’s right. With nearly all of the focus, attention and spotlight on Serena Williams and her bid for a Calendar Year Slam, it was Novak Djokovic who “stole the show”, finishing with the better Grand Slam numbers. They both won three Slams, but Djokovic make the finals in all four and had the more impressive victories.
And Novak wrapped up his best Slam run overcoming a hostile crowd and Roger Federer with one of his most memorable wins.
2. Serena Slammed
So what happened to Serena? It’s simple, she caved under the weight of the pressure. We’ve seen it happen to other players in other situations, but hardly ever to Serena. Yet, these were different times.
Sure, Roberta Vinci played well, but this loss had been coming. Look at all the struggles Serena faced in Paris, the Heather Watson match at Wimbledon, the fact she lost a set to Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
The writing was on the wall. It was there for the taking, but it was a question of can someone execute and Vinci finally.
That said, in a normal match, no way Vinci wins that. But last Friday the moment, the history, the expectation, all those streaks, all got to Serena. Had someone like Maria Sharapova been across the net in the semifinals, maybe that would have kept Serena on the ball. Maybe she didn’t prepare properly because it was just Vinci. I don’t know.
Unfortunately for Serena, in just a few weeks she’ll turn 34 and she’ll never have this chance again. And we’ll never have this chance again to see it.
3. The Future Of The WTA: All-Italian Finals?
Of course it’s unlikely we see another all-Italian final anytime soon in women’s tennis – and full to credit Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci for playing an enjoyable match – but watching the final on Saturday I couldn’t get past the thought that, “is this the future of women’s tennis when Serena retires?”
In the men’s game, we can see new superstars on the horizon like Borna Coric, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev who all showed their promise in New York, but who’s the next dominant women’s superstar?
Petra Kvitova? Probably the closest to the throne, but no. Victoria Azarenka? Past her peak. Caroline Wozniacki? No. Simona Halep? Really? Madison Keys? I don’t see it.
There really isn’t anyone you can look to and say, wow, she’s going win double digit Slams. So once Serena (and Maria Sharapova not long after) hangs it up after next season (that’s my guess, post-Olympics), we are going to see some pretty random Grand Slam finals and complete chaos.
4. Will Roger Ever Get To 18?
Roger Federer’s been stuck on 17 Slams now for three long years, and unfortunately he might stuck there a lot longer.
His problem isn’t his skill or movement, it’s his age. And so far he’s doing an incredible job of fighting Father Time, but we all know who’s eventually going to win that battle.
Right now though, Federer’s issue is best-of-5, and I just don’t think he can hang with the top in that format against the very best men, like Djokovic, on a consistent basis.
Best-of-3, he can get on a run, break out that SABR and steal a win. That’s much tougher in five sets.
And honestly, 12 months from right now I can’t imagine he’ll be a better a player than what we saw this past week. Of course, if anyone can prove me wrong it’s Federer. He’s done it before.
As for the final, it’s break points once again. Like those Federer-Nadal matches, Federer once again was bitten by his lack of break point conversions, just 5/23 against Djokovic Sunday night. That’s just not going to get it done.
Overall though, a positive event and a positive summer. And he should finish strong this fall.
5. Thank God The Roof Is Coming
I don’t know how we didn’t get another US Open Monday final, but thankfully we didn’t. Yet the rain did disrupt the last weekend of the tournament and perhaps irritated Serena’s bid for the Calendar Slam as she was forced to play her semifinals during the early part of the day Friday instead of the night before.
With the roof ready to go next year, the days of rain delays and uncertainty at the US Open are over during week two. So next year, of course we’ll see a perfect week on bright blue skies and no rain in sight.
6. Rafa Reeling
Rafa wrapped up his worst Grand Slam season losing to new rival Fabio Fognini in the third round at the US Open. That was his first loss ever at a Slam from two sets up. And that’s five straight Slams for Rafa without a semifinal appearance.
A new coach just isn’t coming. The serve isn’t going to magically get better. And he’ll keep getting older.
As the negative records continue to pile up, on the bright side, can he really do worse next year? I don’t think so.
7. In-Match Interviews!
Aside from being a little too Serena-Centric, overall ESPN had a good debut as the sole network in the U.S. And in the first round they made history becoming the first network to interview a player DURING a match.
That player was Coco Vandeweghe who had just won the first set over Sloane Stephens, and Pam Shriver did a great job breaking new ground.
I don’t recall any other players also getting interviewed, but hopefully this will be a stepping stone to more and more. It’s a good initiative.
8. Can We Move The US Open A Week Or Two Earlier?
it seems every year, the biggest tennis tournament in America – the end of the pro tennis season for many casual fans – concludes on the weekend the NFL opens play, and tennis gets slammed in the news shows and media. While the ratings may be up this year – thanks to Serena – it’s hard for tennis, much less anyone or anything, to compete with the NFL.
So I don’t know if it can be done, but in the future the US Open should end the weekend BEFORE the NFL. But I have a feeling the heads over in New York City already know that. I hope.
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