Monday, September 9, 2013

My U.S. Open top 10

Interior, Grand Central Station
My top 10 U.S. Open occurrences, in ascending order:

10. Don't like the weather?: Just wait a day and it will get worse. This U.S. Open featured extreme heat, a lot of rain, and enough wind to give the finalists fits.

9.  The young and the winless: Down they went, the young ones, taken out by veteran players who know what it takes to win big matches. The only "youngster" who  made it to the final four was 24-year-old Victoria Azarenka, who lost to a 31-year old in the final. The final eight was mostly made up of older players, too; the youngest players to make it to the quarterfinals were Azarenka, Carla Suarez Navarro (24) and Ekaterina Makarova (25).

8. The best match no one talked about: On a very hot day at the Open, Carla Suarez Navarro beat Angelique Kerber. It took her 2 hours and 41 minutes, and in the first two sets, the momentum swings were outrageous. The third set was an all-out thriller, and one of the highlights of the tournament.

7. Still a fragile golden flower: Will it ever change for Li Na? She's fitter than ever, has the best coach she's ever had--and one who really understands her--but she showed us in the quarterfinals that she can still come unglued when the stakes are high.

6. We just started playing, and you're already upset: Stanford and Carlsbad champions Dominika Cibulkova and Samantha Stosur were both upset in the first round of the Open. The Stosur upset got all the press because Stosur is a former U.S. Open champion, and because she was upset by a very young player from the USA. But the Cibulkova upset was big, too.

5. Caio, I'm back!: Thought Flavia Pennetta was finished? Then you don't know anything about Fighting Italians, and especially this one. For the second time in her career, the Queen of Fed Cup has made a huge comeback. So huge, in fact, that she reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open for the first time. At 31, Pennetta is one of the "old" players, and it would be excellent instruction for the young players to study not only her game, but the way she approaches her career.

4. Getting closer all the time: Victoria Azarenka didn't really look like herself throughout much of the tournament, yet she still managed to fight all the way to the final. And she made that final memorable. Down a set and two breaks, she forced a second set tiebreak, which she won. The two-time Australian Open champion didn't win the tournament, but she showed us, yet again, that she has what it takes to rise to a very high level. Stay tuned.

3. Czechlist--first, you beat the Williams sisters: And they did. Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, the 2011 French Open champions, defeated Serena and Venus Williams in straight sets in the semifinals. So if you can do that you should be able to win the whole thing, right? And they did. The Czech pair won the U.S. Open doubles title when they defeated Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua 6-7, 6-1, 6-4 in the final.

2. Giving "doubles" a whole new meaning: Andrea Hlavackova not only won the women's doubles title with partner Lucie Hradecka, she also won the mixed doubles title with partner Max Mirnyi. This victory marked Hlavackova's first major mixed doubles title.

1. Having a blast: When asked if she was having fun at the Open, Serena Williams said she was "having a blast." I guess so. The world number 1 pretty much romped to the final, in which she was given a true fight by world number 2 Victoria Azarenka. But in the third set, Williams pulled out all the stops, and that was that. She won her fifth U.S. Open title and her 17th singles major.  An extraordinary athlete with great finesse and exceptional mental strength, Serena Williams appears to be in her prime. Williams says she's feeling exceptionally good physically, and we can only imagine what that will mean in 2014.


Sabey said...

Thanks Diane! Great Summary. I did love that the "older" ladies took it to the young ones!

Diane said...

Thanks, Sabey!

bill said...

Serena goes from strength to strength. She reminds me of Michael Jordan - her biggest competition seems to be with herself.

Diane said...

Well put. This is why we sometimes look to athletes for inspiration.