What with a dour schedule on Europsort when the tournament reaches the final rounds coupled with my evening shifts returning I have been sorely deprived of any action.
But what a tournament it has been this year.
True to form, the players I tipped to go far largely struggled; Safina, Venus, Sharapova and especially my ‘dark horse’ Elena Dementieva – arguably the form player of the women’s event going in. Andy’s Roddick and Murray were disappointing whilst my Djokovic bating was answered by the Serb’s excellent run to the semi finals, beaten narrowly by Federer and his hotdog masterclasses.
The story of the tournament? Well despite Melanie Oudin’s super run to the quarter finals defeating four top Russian’s en route, and even Juan Martin Del Potro’s maiden Slam, this was Kim’s tournament.
Just four weeks into her shock comeback, the endearing Belgian showed us all just why her retirement over two years ago was such a loss to the game. Her fearless yet attractive game plan is a joy to behold and her bubbly, honest and fair persona both on and off the court is such a breath of fresh air amidst the sadly stoic and robotic nature of the current top crop of the WTA.
Sure, it was a diminished field after some shock exits early on, but Clijsters victims this last fortnight still included the tricky Marion Bartoli, dangerous Li Na and both Williams siblings. The win over Venus typified the tournament – a bagel apiece as the momentum shifted violenetly between the two great rivals before a sense of belief mixed with a greater freedom allowed the Belgian to triumph. Venus is still mentally blurred and hardly super confident after that Wimbledon loss, never helped by the partisan crowd and the emotional cauldron of the show courts at Flushing Meadows.
But the pressure was on Kim just as much and she persevered. The semi final with Serena was a similar scenario yet the pressure, rewards and of course emotions were magnified. Serena’s outburst is an ugly stain on her (recent) spotless record. Since the wilderness years, Serena’s comeback has been both impressive in it’s quality and most of all mature professionalism. The manner of her loss last week will not be forgotten in a hurry.
No-one really expected Roger Federer to fail in his bid for a 16th Grand Slam and a sixth straight US Open title, and why should they? With Murray out early, it was the (so far) rusty Nadal, indifferent Djokovic and arguably ‘still developing’ talent of Del Potro standing in the world number one’s way come the business end of the fortnight.
The warning signs must have been clear after the young Argentine’s swift dispatch of Nadal in the semi-finals. Maybe it was merely proff that once the Spaniard met some top 5 pedigree his steady progress would be halted and his incomplete playing levels exposed. However it would take a fearless approach to sweep aside Nadal 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 as Del Potro did such is the on court presence of the former number one in the world.
Federer grabbed the headlines with his penultimate winner against Djokovic but Del Potro had a steely determination that defied his years.
Was Roger too relaxed? Did he perhaps not give enough credit to his opponent whom he had comfortably beaten in recent meetings? Was it too easy even for someone as wise and intelligent as the Swiss master to assume that – with this being Del Potro’s first Major final, at some point his opponent would crack or at least tense up allowing Fed to break through.
Who knows, but after a thrilling five set encounter it was Federer who had succumbed to the truly awesome Del Potro forehand.
Vibrant, fearless and fizzing with pulsating youth Del Potro’s performance reminded me of Federer’s first Grand Slam defeat at the hands of Nadal in Roland Garros accompanied by whispers of a new era at the top of the men’s game.