The real drama of the 2017 US Open

Timothy Wee Timothy Wee

It was business as usual for Rafael Nadal as he clinched his third US Open title over Kevin Anderson, while the underwhelming all-American women grand slam final between Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys failed to live up the hype.

Typically, the grand finals matches are the main highlights of any grand slam tournament. Just not this year at the US Open.

It was bound to happen. Having witnessed Nadal’s comfortable victory, the sight of the experienced world number one clutching a Grand Slam trophy is getting old. Unless you are a huge Nadal fan.

On the flip side, the occasion got the better of twelfth seed Madison Keys in her women grand final match against fellow compatriot and friend Sloane Stephens. The sheer amount of errors in the first set was disappointing and painful to watch at times.

Thankfully, all is not lost. There were thrills and spills in the 2017 US Open, if you know where to look.

 

Asian Pride

People love an upset. Or rather, they love the drama that comes with it.

Which is why the opening round upset between rising Japanese American star Naomi Osaka and reigning US Open champion Angelique Kerber got our panties in a bunch.

For 65 minutes, the 19-year-old power baseline hitter dominated the former world number one, allowing Kerber to take just four games in two sets.

The victory, her first over a top-ten ranked opponent, is the best win over a ranked opponent for a Japanese player since Akiko Morigami upset then world number three Nadia Petrova at Roland Garros in 2006.

 

Dressed To Kill

And the award for the most dapper US Open dresser goes to… 20-year-old German, Alexander Zverev. Drawing comparison to tennis great Bjorn Borg, the fourth seeded player was all style and no substance as he succumbed to defeat at the hands of Croatian Borna Coric.

His retro adidas striped kit (complete with matching headband) looked straight out of Wes Anderson movie and pays homage to the character Richie Tenenbaum from the movie The Royal Tenenbaums.

Big Mouths Strike Again

When there is smoke, there is always fire. And boy were there some fiery bad boys this year.

First off, 22-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgio dropped an F-bomb in his all-Australian first round match against John Millman.

Frustrated by a shoulder injury, the incident occurred when the bad boy of tennis lost his temper and screamed at himself. Apparently, it was so loud that it was picked up by the TV cameras.

Kyrgios, who denied the incident when confronted by the chair umpire, was given a code violation. He would lose the third set, causing him to rack up another violation when he decided to smash his racket.

Taking a leaf out of Kyrgios’ book, world number 22 Fabio Fognini ran his mouth and made insulting sexist remarks to a female chair umpire in his opening singles match loss. That was only one of the three separate code violations which saw the fiery Italian ejected out of his doubles spot and fined $23000 (nearly half of his $50000 prize money).

Despite a public apology, the 2015 Australian Open doubles winner is under investigation by the Grand Slam Board and could face a permanent ban and fine of up to $250000. Fognini was previously fined $27500 in his 2014 Wimbledon first round win.

 

Love Is In The Air For Sharapova

Returning from her 15-month drug suspension in April, Maria Sharapova took part in her first Grand Slam for the year. The wildcard entry was battling a left arm injury, but that did not stop her from registering an opening win over second seed Simona Halep. The 30-year-old eventually lost to world number sixteenth Anastasija Sevastova despite taking the first set.

However, Sharapova was quick to pay tribute to the fans: “I’ve had an amazing reaction from fans since I’ve been back and that’s been very special”. The Sharapova fan in us is inclined to agree babe.

 

Two (Williams) Heads Are Better Than One

In a US Open tournament missing key players such as Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, it is perhaps the absence of the pregnant Serena Williams that was most keenly felt.

While Serena was home on mummy duties, her (bestie/BFF) sister Venus made a return to the Top Five since 2011 with her hard fought two hours 35 minutes quarter-final match against unseeded Czech Petra Kvitova.

Clearly, she needed Serena’s calming support and presence as she was eliminated in the semis against eventual winner Sloane Stephens after an intense third set tie-breaker.

Nonetheless, the 37-year-old still managed to provide a talking point and one of the lighter moments of the tournament when she struck a serve straight into a ball boy’s family jewels in her match with Maria Sakkari.

 

Federer, Denied

Despite being plagued with a back problem before the tournament, third seed Roger Federer was always one of the favourites to land the title. Having already bagged two Grand Slams this year, the 36-year-old was hoping for a historic sixth US Open win; one more than his idol Pete Sampras.

But there was no fairy tale for the nineteenth time Grand Slam winner as he was beaten by Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in a match where his injury prevented him from exerting his authority.

However, can we really fault the Swiss tennis legend?

Considering his niggling back injury and the fact that he laboured through two epic five-set match against American Frances Tiafoe and Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny in the earlier rounds, we are ready to tip our proverbial hat off to Federer for his herculean 2017 US Open effort.

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