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Final thoughts on the 2019 US Open

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Roar Guru
5 days ago
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The US Open, and the grand slam season, is over for another year, and while Rafael Nadal became the oldest winner of the US Open in nearly half a century, in the women’s we saw our youngest major champion since Maria Sharapova won here at Flushing Meadows in 2006.

Second-seeded Nadal claimed his fourth US Open title, and 19th major title overall, by outlasting Russian fifth seed Daniil Medvedev in a five-set final lasting nearly five hours.

The Spaniard opened up a two-set lead and it appeared Medvedev’s first grand slam final would end in humiliation, like many before him, however the 23-year-old would fight back to take the next two sets and force a one-set championship shootout.

At this stage, history was against Medvedev, as no man has rallied from a two-set deficit to win a major final since Gaston Gaudio famously overhauled Guillermo Coria to win his only major title at the 2004 French Open, not long before Nadal’s dominance at the tournament began.

After he held to start the final set, Nadal was pinged for a second time violation and this led him to face the possibility of falling behind 0-2.

However, the Spaniard would hold for 1-all, then break twice for a 5-2 lead, before having his lead pegged back to 5-4.

He then served out the match to become champion at Flushing Meadows for the fourth time, thus making this tournament his second-most successful after the record-breaking 12 titles he has won at Roland Garros.

At 33 years of age, Nadal also became the oldest man to win the US Open since Ken Rosewall won it at 35 years of age in 1970. He also became the most successful man at the tournament this decade, his four titles more than Novak Djokovic (three), Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic (one each).

It also completed a third straight sweep of the grand slam calendar by the celebrated trio of himself, Djokovic and Roger Federer, while it was also the 13th straight major tournament won by a man in his thirties, with Stan Wawrinka winning the 2016 US Open at age 31.

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Nadal’s 19th major singles title has also set up what promises to be a fascinating first half of the 2020 season, in which the Spaniard will have the chance to equal Federer’s record of 20 titles at the Australian Open in January.

Do that, and then he will start favourite to overtake his Swiss rival with a 21st major singles title, and a jaw-dropping 13th title, at Roland Garros in May.

Men’s singles final result: [2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [5] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 7–5, 6–3, 5–7, 4–6, 6–4.

Rafael Nadal

(Photo by Lev Radin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

While the 30-something-year-olds continue to dominate in the men’s division, on the women’s side of things, we saw a clean sweep of the grand slam calendar for players born in the 1990s or later.

Earlier this year, little-known Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu’s ranking was so low that she had to qualify for the main draw of the Australian Open.

Nearly eight months later, the 19-year-old will rise to a career-high ranking of number five after defying nearly two decades of experience to upset Serena Williams in straight sets in the women’s final.

Andreescu won the pre-match coin toss and opted to receive first, and this paid off when the American – nearly two decades her senior – double-faulted twice in the opening game to give the teen the break to start off.

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The Canadian then took the opening set 6-3, and appeared to have it all wrapped up when she held two match points at 5-1 in the second.

But the American – never one to give up and who stayed much calmer this year unlike the controversy of last year when she lashed out at the umpire – roared back to level the match at 5-all and threaten to take the match to a one-set championship shootout.

Andreescu later regrouped, holding a game later to leave Williams to have to serve to stay in the match.

She then reached championship point at 30-40, and finally won it on a powerful return which Williams could not respond to.

By winning, the Thornhill native broke new ground, succeeding where Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic (both beaten by Petra Kvitova and Andy Murray in Wimbledon finals in 2014 and 2016 respectively) couldn’t and becoming the first player from Canada to win a major singles title.

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Further, she also became the first tennis player born in the 2000s to salute on one of tennis’ biggest stages. She is also the first teenager – man or woman – to win a major since Maria Sharapova triumphed at Flushing Meadows in 2006.

To understand the magnitude of this win, Andreescu wasn’t even born when Williams won her first major title at the 1999 US Open, aged 17 years.

She now joins Williams, Sharapova (who also won her first major aged 17, at Wimbledon in 2004, defeating Williams in the final no less) and Svetlana Kuznetsova as active players who won their first grand slam title while aged in their teens.

The 19-year-old now has two chances left to emulate what Sharapova did, and that is to win her second major title before she turns 20 next June.

Her victory also made it five straight grand slam tournaments won by players born after the year 1990, after Naomi Osaka’s triumph here last year as well as at this year’s Australian Open, Ashleigh Barty’s breakthrough at Roland Garros and Simona Halep’s salute at Wimbledon.

As for Serena Williams, time is running out for her to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 grand slam singles titles, with eight majors left for her to compete in before she turns 40 in just over two years from now.

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It was her fourth straight defeat in a majors singles final and it also means her longest title drought will extend past 31 and a half months, the American having not saluted since winning the Australian Open in 2017.

Women’s singles final result: [15] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated [8] Serena Williams (USA) 6-3, 7-5.

Bianca Andreescu

(Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Elsewhere, Barty blew the chance to successfully defend her doubles title, with the pairing of her and Victoria Azarenka losing the women’s doubles final to Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka.

It was the second time Sabalenka has beaten Azarenka this tournament, after beating the former world number one in the first round of the singles tournament on Day 2.

While Barty’s dreams of a second grand slam doubles title went begging, a win for Azarenka would’ve been her first grand slam title of any kind since winning a pair of Australian Open singles titles in 2012 and 2013, which to her might seem like a lifetime ago.

Like Williams, the 30-year-old Belarusian also remains without a title since becoming a mother nearly three years ago, though she did win the doubles title with Barty on the clay courts of Rome back in May.

To finish off, congratulations to Rafael Nadal and Bianca Andreescu, champions of the men’s and women’s singles titles respectively at the 2019 US Open.

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That wraps up another year at the grand slams for 2019, with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal taking two majors each in the men’s division, while we saw four different female champions for the fourth straight year.

With the introduction of the new ATP Cup to be played in Australia in 2020, the Australian Open – again to be televised in Australia by the Nine Network – will start one week later, starting on January 20 and ending on February 2.