US Open 2015 in review: Forza Italia, No-one can stop Novak

 
Having watched the heavily delayed men’s final only hours ago – please forgive any inconsistencies (more than usual anyway).

Rarely do I get to enjoy the final rounds of this particular showpiece – such is Sky’s exclusive rights especially in the second week, but this year was different.

The women’s final aside, I witnessed the headline-heavy latter stages of the final slam of 2015 – and it was worth the money.

In a format I am looking to repeat in future majors, this review will encompass the doubles competitions as well as singles  which have hogged these pages somewhat.

Week 1 round-up

The early rounds saw some strong performances from the home-grown and neighbouring nation favourites: Mardy Fish produced a stirring comeback and farewell string of performances joined by Nieminen and Hewitt in goodbye kisses to the tennis world. Likewise Genie Bouchard, Madison Keyes and Venus Williams had a great first week – especially the veteran elder Williams firmly in her sister;’s shadow of course.

Elsewhere, with most of the established names safely through to the second week – including Cilic, Wawrinka, Kvitova, Halep (surprisingly), and the usual suspects Murray, Federer, Djokovic and Serena, there were still shocks aplenty.

From 2014 finalist Nishikori’s opening day ousting to Rafa’s all too expected removal come the middle weekend via early exits for Wozniacki and Muguruza and very nearly Murray and Serena who survived scare after scare.

The revelation of the first week was arguably Johanna Konta’s superb run – blown up by the Brit media of course, but truly and objectively; this was a triumph.

Week 2: Anderson abolishes Andy and the Italians break the bookies and destroy Serena’s historymaking.

With Rafa gone, the men’s competition nevertheless progressed to it’s expected conclusion with Murray’s fourth round exit the only unexpected and hugely enjoyable surprise. Come the semi-finals and with much quality promised by a Cilic/Djokovic and Federer/Wawrinka line-up the quality of the top two seeds was such that both matches were non-contests.

Cilic especially was exposed as the one-hit wonder i’m afraid he will be remembered for – ankle injury or not.

The women’s side of things looked to be following the men with a similar semi-final make-up in the offering, with the added footnote of Flavia Pennetta’s ongoing love affair with the Big Apple, herself one of two Italians in the final four.

But oh how the formbook was torn up on that Friday, with those rain delayed semi-finals seeing a sorry Halep crushed by Pennetta and – most astonishingly, Roberta Vinci overcoming Serena in a three setter full of drama, anguish and ultimately capitulation on the American’s part.

Although she has done and will continue to deny it – Serena succumbed to the unimaginable pressure subjected to her. A calendar grand slam in this age of constant under-the-microscope surveillance by fans and media alike will get to even the greatest of champions.

Mixed Doubles – Hingis and Paes further destroy American dreams

As the Swiss starlet continues to paint her second renaissance masterpiece and the evergreen Paes likewise confounds his 42 years – this was a nailbiter of a finale as the U.S duo of Mattek-Sands and Querrey looked to have bravely clinched all momentum halfway through the championship tiebreak shootout.

It was not to be – Hingis and Paes were popular winners regardless.

Women’s Doubles – Hingis and Mirza march on as new undisputed number 1s

Again, Hingis and Mirza were imperious, unlike a nervy and jittery Wimbledon triumph, this was a performance showing all the signs of a partnership looking increasingly formidable – dominance awaits?

Men’s Doubles – Victory at last for Mahut and magnificent Herbert

A hugely popular win on a personal level; the unassuming Nicolas Mahut finally tasted major success after so many near-misses and what could have been’s. In a partnership which began in  January and has bloomed into a beautiful bromance involving two major finals, two tour titles and now at last a Grand Slam title – the French duo always had the upper hand against the more uneven Aussie-Brit pairing of Peers and Murray.

Women’s final – Flavia bids farewell with fairytale in New York

A predictably tight first set saw some throwback tennis which echoed that of years gone by as slice, grace and angles briefly replaced the power game of today. Vinci went toe to toe with her more fancied opponent but was hanging on at the end – Pennetta proving far too good for her compatriot and a sparkling list of victims these past two weeks.

A hugely popular winner – but there is no denying the sport was denied a unique slice of history by the very people who inject the hype.

Men’s final – Novak’s amazing mental strength sees him through against 17,000 others

I’m still not sure if this was essentially a repeat of the Wimbledon final mis-match or something more. Again, Djokovic had the making of Federer and allowed him little rhythm and subsequently any control. The Serb’s speed, defence and pitch perfect groundstrokes have made him truly imperious these last few years – nowhere is this more evident than when he is busy frustrating someone of Federer’s quality.

The warning signs were evident in Djoko’s demolition of Cilic a round previous, and he started in much the same way here, breaking Fed twice in the first set and rattling the usually serene Swiss.

But, perhaps frustratingly so – and the main reason I persisted with the match long into the early hours of Monday morning was that if not for a couple of numerous break point conversions I truly believe – with the help of the heavily partisan fans, that Federer’s momentum would have snuffed out Novak’s challenge long enough to sneak the win.

It wasn’t to be and despite several stirring comebacks from the 34 year old, he fell once more.

For Roger, it’s the same story: avoid Novak and any title is his. For Djokovic? World domination will only continue as he has the making of everyone right now.

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