|Say Eeeeease – Serena and Rafa coasted all the way to final,
where they had to produce their very best to prevail
I’ve made no secret of the workload I’ve been under this past fortnight since the conclusion of the last slam of 2013, hence this late and rather brief post.
In short, despite the predicted victors things were far from dull en route to that final Sunday as upsets and drama ruled the roost.
Whilst the Bryan siblings would miss out on that Golden Slam, surely this tournament in both singles and doubles can be remembered as the Olden Slam.
Three of the four women’s semi-finalists – and five of eight quarterfinalists – were 30 or over, and the average age of the four men’s semi-finalists was 27, with none younger than 26.
For me, this was extra special – such is my well known love for the ‘old guard’ the generation I really grew up with: Hewitt, Blake (who did an ‘A-Rod’ and waved goodbye to the sport here this year), Youzhny, Robredo, Pennetta, Hantuchova and of course Williams herself all had a tournament to remember.
Although not quite as senior, one could add Richard Gasquet and Stanislas Wawrinka to that list, both unlucky to be playing in an era that has never let up in men’s tennis – no quiet periods for someone new to snatch a slam.
Both men played a blinder of a tournament and more than made up for the absence of a sadly fading Federer and never comfortable Murray in the semis.
The other expected title challenger and former champ Mr Del-Potro was of course ousted in five on day five, his and Errani’s exit the previous day kick-starting a host of high profile departures for most of the big players.
Kvitova, Wozniacki, Kuznetsova, Haas, Radwanska, Kerber and Federer were all out for the count by the second week or thereabouts with Berdych and Murray not far behind.
Everyone struggled at some point except for the eventual champions, and is it actually as simple as that?
Neither Rafa or Serena broke sweat until the final – even their illustrious opponents – with what had on paper become a kind draw, had been made to work substantially harder en route. Azarenka produced her customary brittle blend of brilliance and bafflement whilst Novak had to produce his very best to repeat his five setter victory over the brave Wawrinka.
In a fortnight full of dramatic upsets and some spellbinding tennis – the finals didn’t disappoint, the women provided the drama and the men produced the quality.
Many are saying that Nadal is the best player of all time and everyone is convinced he will out score Federer in the Major’s total. I will revisit that discussion at a later time but certainly this victory for the Spaniard encapsulates what has been arguably the most impressive year in tennis history. Not in terms of cold hard titles of course, but with circumstances at play – the career-threatening injuries and lack of match-play coupled with the quality at the top of the men’s game let alone the existence of the ‘Big Four’ – a quartet of the best players to ever pick up a racquet.
What to say of Serena that hasn’t already been waxed lyrical by all and sundry? Simply that she remains the best player on tour right now – and can certainly stake her claim to the greatest of all time., at 32 she hardly looks like stopping.
Ah yes, the exploits of my favourite under-achiever cannot be ignored. After five successive first round Slam defeats the 30-year old stumbled into the quarter-finals here for the first time in over a decade. Yes it was an easy draw, but as long suffering fans of the Slovak will know al too well, nothing comes easily to this most frustrating of talents.
Ultimately the 6-2, 6-3 defeat at the hands of Vika was closer than the scoreline suggested, with many a cute drop-shot and clean winner filling Eurosport’s highlights.
The 2013 U.S Open Heroes
And the Zeroes
Juan Martin Del Potro
Mike and Bob Bryan