Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Some Thoughts Following the US Open

Serena's upset for the ages:  No matter how good you are it's natural to have a bad day here or there. Serena did a great job of overcoming some bad days on her way to the US Open, but eventually having so many close calls is going to catch up to you.  Losing to Roberta Vinci may be shocking on its own, but every great player loses the occasional match to a solid if not spectacular pro.  That said, Serena sure let an incredible opportunity slip away.  None of the other top seeds remained by the tournaments latter stages, and she wasn't able to capitalize.  Maybe nerves got to her, maybe she had a mental let down following a dramatic win over her sister, or maybe it was just one of those days where she was a bit off and ran into a tricky opponent.  Serena's year is still phenomenal despite the loss, but it will be hard for her not to think about what could have been when she looks back on her 2015. 

Djokovic confirms what we all knew:  Heading into the US Open Roger Federer may not have technically been the favorite, but he was the popular pick to steal the title from the world number one.  Federer had just beaten Djokovic and Murray in Cincinnati, and undeniably was in great form.  Everyone seemed to forget that Federer had also been in great form heading into nearly every grand slam for the last few years yet failed to capture the title every time  (This isn't meant to knock Federer, who at 34 is still playing at an unbelievably high level, but at some point tennis fans and analysts have to wake up and realize we've seen this show before).  Djokovic is number one in the world for a reason, and a loss to Federer in Cincinatti when he was fatigued from Canada should have never been given so much emphasis.  Djokovic's defense and depth made Federer force the issue a bit more than he wanted, and it was clear from the beginning that we weren't seeing the same Federer we had seen during his previous 6 matches.  Djokovic now has 10 grand slams and counting, and what was once a Big Four appears to have dwindled to a Big One. 

Flavia Pennetta's stunning victory:  Heading into the US Open Flavia Pennetta was 2-5 in her last 7 matches.  Naturally, she left New York holding one of the most prestigious trophies in the sport.  There have been plenty of surprise major winners before, but Pennetta's US Open title is right up there with the best of them.  She's had a long and relatively successful career, but there was simply no indication this was coming.  Regardless, Pennetta picked the best possible time to go on a hot streak, and because of it she completely changed how her career will be remembered. 

Who's satisfied, and who's kicking themselves:  They may not have won the tournament, but Donald Young, Benoit Paire, Kevin Anderson, Roberta Vinci, and Venus Williams all have to be feeling pretty good about their runs in New York.  Vinci scored one of the biggest upsets in recent memory in her take down of Serena, and Venus looked good during her run to the quarters.  Young and Paire each showed more mental and physical toughness than we've come to expect from them, and Anderson managed to knock out Murray with his overwhelming power.  On the other hand, Azarenka and Halep must be furious about losing before the finals given that Serena didn't end up being there.  On the men's side, while it never would have been easy for Murray to beat Federer and Djokovic back to back, he has to feel like he blew another opportunity at a slam.  He had just beaten Djokovic in Canada, and must have thought he had a chance to take the title heading in.  Instead, Murray remains stuck on two major titles while all the other members of the Big Four are now in double digits.   

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