US Open 2019: Finals review sees new ground broken and a grind towards history

A clunky post title, but then I haven’t had much sleep after last night’s drama almost saw a double changing of the guard in New York.

Bianca Andreescu def Serena Williams 6-3, 7-5

First Saturday evening and for Serena, not a chance for redemption per se (her actions here 12 months ago remain unforgivable) but yet another final opportunity to statistically cement her place as the greatest.

Yet again though, Williams’ post-baby wait for a major title continues, and as with Kerber, Osaka and Halep her opponent produced a masterclass to deny her.

Andreescu – Canada’s first ever major winner – has of course already announced herself in a big way. That Indian Wells title was always going to be the kickstart of something memorable.

Her fearless, scintillating hitting reminded me of Ostapenko in her pomp, but crucially here too there is defensive nous to complete the package. In many ways it is the perfect combination that Williams herself had executed for so long.

That is, until now: the power is still there with Serena but I’m afraid to say her game is now just as recognisable by its wild errors and questionable gamesmanship.

Andreescu now has to avoid the all-too-frequent pattern in the women’s game (see Ostapenko) of a major wane after breakthrough success. On Saturday’s evidence, she may well buck the trend.

Rafa Nadal Def. Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4

First – a disclaimer – unlike the rest of the tennis press (BBC especially) I will not be discussing the GOAT debate here. Can it be judged in mere statistics alone anyway? For another time.

Instead let’s celebrate this incredible classic, Nadal was cruising in his signature defense-heavy grind. Two sets and a break up, Medvedev looked weary after an impressive fortnight.

Then, the fifth seed really showed his quality and seemed to enter a trance-like state, emotionless and ultra-focused as his opponent looked increasingly worried.

To say Medvedev was almost robotic would be doing him a huge disservice, yes he played with a Djokovic-esque precision and relentlessness, but unlike the great Serb, flair and daring oozed from every scintillating groundstroke.

Nadal had New York hearts, but Medvedev really appeals to me, his shot-making was often jaw-dropping and there was none of the strutting theatrics of certain others.

Yet, this was Nadal’s night – he played sublime stuff and silenced a few ugly voiced suggesting he is only a master on the clay.

But for me, despite Rafa’s continued coronation this was another tournament which oh so subtly hinted that yes the new generation are poised to finally wretstle dominance from the immortals.

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