|City Slickers: Angelique and Stanislas were worthy winners|
Of all the majors, Australia probably suffers the most with producing damp squibs of finals and having an anticlimactic air, late on.
What we had here in New York this weekend was an emphatic two fingers at such a notion; a great tournament was finished with two very different but equally engaging final reels.
Kerber fends off brutal but brittle Pliskova
On Saturday, the women’s final produced a tight three-setter full of twists, turns and mini-momentum shifts. Pliskova’s brilliantly clean hitting vs Kerber’s staunch defence and gritty self-belief keeping her involved throughout numerous tight and times torturous service games.
There was pressure for both women, Pliskova – despite already beating both Williams siblings this fortnight, was in completely unchartered waters – a first major final, and duly had a nervy start.
Kerber, who’s nerves seemed to grow as the contest progressed and duly tightened, of course had the new number one ranking freshly bestowed upon her, and the expectancy of being the bookies favourite.
Pliskova’s do or die approach (which one hopes will be joined by a Plan B in future when the stakes are this high again) was dictating the outcome and by the time of the final set, one sensed that the young Czech had the fate on her own racquet.
A shame then that she seemed to panic in the absence of another game-plan once things got serious – Kerber needed only to keep the ball in play to triumph in the closing stages, despite being down a break.
For the German, more success no doubt beckons – Angie seems more than capable in handling the off-court attentions of being Top Dog. And Pliskova? Well I fancy her mentality to remain refreshingly uncluttered too, it will be interesting to see if she can remain a force amongst the top and not fade away as so many have in the past decade.
Stan does it again as style wins over stamina
In a glorious finale, Stan Wawrinka defeated Novak Djokovic in four quality-drenched sets last night.
It was a similar script to that 2015 Roland Garros win in which technique, timing and flair overcame the metronomic defence that has so risked the identity of the men’s game.
If anything though this was an even more convincing win – Djokovic started the brighter but was quickly reigned in by the Swiss who’s nervous tears before the match were soon wiped away figuratively and literally with every sweeping backhand winner.
As Stan found his game, so too did Novak lose his concentration, energy levels and – a rarity – a little bit of self-belief.
As in Paris, Wawrinka was simply in unplayable form, when those levels of power and accuracy are combined then no amount of defence – even by the best in the business – can turn the tide.
It was a masterclass from both men, Djokovic battled his recent form and the crowd to wrestle absolute domination away from his opponent, but it wasn’t to be.
Novak now will re-group and maybe think of some personnel changes, at the very least a reduced schedule must be on his agenda (opening the door for Murray).
For Stan? Well my OCD would like him to win Wimbledon next year and duly hang up his racquet but – like Sharapova – I feel he will simply mop up more majors on this magical form.
Images from US Open.org