Sunday, September 11, 2022

My U.S. Open top 10

Here are my top U.S. Open occurrences, in descending order:

10. Look who's in the final!: She didn't win (Alexandra Eala did that), but Lucie Havlickova from the Czech Republic made it to the final, and it's no surprise. Havlickova won the junior French Open singles title, and in 2021, Linda Noskova won the French Open. The Czech female tennis machine is a mighty thing.

9. Storming through the draw: Storm Sanders, with partner John Peers, won the mixed doubles championship. The Australian team defeated Kirsten Flipkens and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 4-6, 6-4, [10]-[7] in the final.

8. Sexism is as sexism does: You can name the facility after Billie Jean King, but your true colors will always come out. The U.S. Open's Twitter account was dismissive of women in so many ways--referring to "sportsmanship" between the two singles finalists, for example, and announcing that Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner were the first Italians to ever reach the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open (Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci would like a word). But they outdid themselves when they drew a "cute" cartoon that was intended to insult Richard Gasquet (in a "fun" way, of course), by calling him a woman (in the most vulgar way imaginable).

7. French flair/French perseverance: Alizé Cornet began her U.S. Open campaign by upsetting the defending champion, but the most signiicant part of the Frenchwoman's run was that it was her 63rd consecutive appearance in a major tournament. Oh là là!

6. Hot wheels: Diede De Groot defended both her singles and doubles titles at this year's U.S. Open. She defeated Yui Kamiji (yet again) in three sets to win the singles title, and she and partner Aniek Van Koot defeated Kamiji and Kgothatso Montjane to win the doubles title. This is De Groot's fifth U.S. Open singles victory in a row, and it's also her second consecutive Grand Slam--last year, it was actually a Golden Slam. During the trophy ceremony, the Dutch star acknowledged the U.S. Open for expanding the wheelchair draw. Diede the Great has now won 16 major singles titles and 15 major doubles titles.

5. Giving live-streaming a bad name: It was really difficult to watch the Open because ESPN's streaming was pure trash from day one. The screen would turn black, the screen would disappear altogether, a message would appear, telling you that the match you were watching wasn't included in your package. The only "solution" was to continually reboot the app, and that didn't always work. To their credit, the ESPN tech staff responded immediately to requests for help, but they insisted that the problems were at the users' end, and they were quite obviously (people all over the country were having the same issues) not.

4. There should have been a garden: So many top seeds and notable players fell in the first two rounds, it was shocking. Gone in the first round were defending champion Emma Raducanu, Simona Halep (a favorite to win the tournament), two-time champion Naomi Osaka, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, and Dasha Kasatkina. In the second round, we lost 3rd seed Maria Sakkari and 4th seed Paula Badosa.

3. End of a golden era: The great Serena Williams retired from professional tennis at this year's U.S. Open. After her opening round, there was a ceremony to honor her, and--after she was defeated in the third round by Ajla Tomljanovic--her exit was an emotionally touching event. The six-time U.S. Open singles champion is a sports icon for the ages, and her appearance (in her gorgeous kit) in New York one final time is a top story in 2022, not just in the sports world, but throughout the culture at large.

2. History is made: Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, seeded third, are the new U.S. Open champions; the Czech team defeated Caty McNally and Taylor Townsend 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the exciting final, despite being down a set and 1-4. But the new championship--the team's sixth major trophy--is part of a much greater story: Krejcikova and Siniakova are the first doubles team in history to win all four majors, the WTA Finals, and a gold medal in the Olympic Games. I'm calling it the Super Golden Career Slam, and it is very impressive. Sadly, however, Krejcikova and Siniakova were not able to try for a Grand Slam this year--despite also winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon--because Krejcikova was ill during the French Open.

1. Iga! Iga! Iga!: Iga Swiatek took on a kind of Princess and the Pea role at this year's U.S. Open. Before the tournament, she said that she didn't have high expectations because it was difficult for her to play with the lightweight tennis balls that are provided for the women at the U.S. Open (former world number 1 Ash Barty had the same issue), and that this was a problem that many WTA players had. Perhaps because of that, throughout the event, she was constantly replacing her racket because she wasn't satisfied with the tension of the strings. There was a low level of frustration involved with her on several occasions.

But never mind--the world number 1 walked away the 2022 champion. That's how good Swiatek is--whatever is bothering her, she either figures out or finds a way to ignore. Her countrywoman, Aga Radwanska, once remarked that good tennis players didn't need sports psychologists (or their equivalent)--I forget her exact words. I wonder what Radwanska thinks now, as the ever-present Daria Abramowicz has indeed been a major factor in forming Swiatek's mental strength.

The two most winning players on the tour, Swiatek and Ons Jabeur, contested the final, and--to the surprise of most fans, I would imagine--Swiatek totally dominated Jabeur for a set and a half. She went on to win the match, 6-2, 7-6, and thus became the first Polish woman to win the U.S. Open. Ealier in the year, Swiatek won the Sunshine Double and the French Open (for the second time).

After the trophy ceremony, ESPN invited the new champion to sit at the desk and chat, but it was sometimes hard to hear the conversation because a massive throng was yelling "Iga! Iga! Iga!" This went on for some time, and is undoubtedly a taste of what is to come as the 21-year-old Swiatek continues to make her mark on the tennis world.


Todd.Spiker said...

One little tip-in as far as the wheelchair event goes. Aniek Van Koot's half of the doubles title with Diede de Groot gives her 22 career slam women's doubles wins, making her maybe the first player (w/ de Groot likely to follow, probably a few times, in fact) to take down a long-time record held by Esther Vergeer, who won 21 in her career.

And Vergeer was there that day to hand out the trophies, too. ;)

Diane said...

Oh, thanks--I didn't realize that 22 surpassed Vergeer's record! I didn't get to see too much of the doubles final. I did watch the singles final, and I saw Van Koot there. The Sunday lineup of wheelchair singles and women's doubles was really good.