The US Open came to its conclusion on Sunday evening as a resurgent Novak Djokovic claimed back-to-back grand slam titles in front of a packed Arthur Ashe.
Djokovic’s win brought an end to an action-packed two weeks of stunning tennis played in often sweltering conditions.
FOX Sports Asia looks at some of the major lessons learned from events in Flushing Meadows.
Djokovic is back
Earlier this year tennis fans were left pondering a previously unthinkable question. Had Novak Djokovic lost his will to win? The then 12-time slam winner had just been knocked out of the quarter-finals at Roland Garros by the 72-ranked Marco Cecchinato and looked a shadow of his former self.
Fast forward just three months and that question has been answered with an emphatic ‘No.’ Somewhere between Paris and London, the Serbian star rediscovered what had been missing following his comeback from an elbow injury. His ferocious desire to chase every point down also returned, along with his knack of delivering in the big tournaments.
Victory at Flushing Meadows and Wimbledon means he is now level with Pete Sampras on 14 slams, only Rafa Nadal (17) and Roger Federer (20) standing in front of him.
Should he continue in this form over the next couple of years few would bet against the revitalised ‘Djoker’ catching them.
Equality still needs some work
The US Open broke the mould back in 1973 when it became the first grand slam tournament to offer equal prize money for the male and female champions, but this year’s tournament showed that tennis still has a long way to go before true equality in sports is achieved.
While Serena Williams’ accusations of sexism in her final defeat remain open to debate, one incident that cannot be disputed was the ridiculousness of the decision to hand Alize Cornet a code violation for simply switching her back-to-front shirt while on court (she was still wearing a sports bra). This, when male players frequently strut around court with their naked top halves exposed.
Although Cornet’s sanction was later found to have been carried out according to the rules, on this occasion the rules were quite clearly shown to be out of date and thankfully, were updated accordingly following an outcry.
Still, forty-five years on since those first steps, it seems male and female tennis – even at the US Open – are still some way off full equality.
Del Potro can challenge again
One of the many heartwarming stories from this US Open was the return of Juan Martin Del Potro to grand slam contention.
The likeable Argentine reached only his second ever grand slam final, nine years after his victory in New York, and although it wasn’t to be this time around, finishing as runner-up was a great moment for the 29-year old after coming back from long-term injury problems with his wrist.
His progress to the final, just three years after he admitted to suffering depression during his absence from the game, will be a great tonic for Del Potro and should fill him with confidence, although he will probably hope that if he makes it to another final in the future, he doesn’t have to face an in-form Djokovic.
Serena was right, but wrong
The 2018 US Open cannot be discussed without mention of the women’s final. Serena Williams’ umpire-induced meltdown dominating the match and the headlines so much so that the champion Naomi Osaka’s brave win was almost completely overshadowed.
While Serena was initially right to bring attention to what was a controversial call by Carlos Ramos, the way she carried on the feud while knowing full well the consequences of her later actions, was unprofessional to say the least.
While, it is true that the top players in most sports have a fierce will to win and sometimes a short fuse when they perceive things not to be going their way, they also have to respect the rules and those that enforce them, even if you don’t agree with things at the time. This is a basic tenet in all professional sports.
By refusing to accept the umpire’s initial decision (she could have stated her case in full at the post-match press conference), Williams herself was responsible for the situation escalating and completely ruining what should have been Osaka’s greatest career moment. That Williams was Osaka’s childhood idol only made the sorry saga even more difficult to watch.
Stream every match at the US Open live on the FOX+ app and catch up on highlights of any action you’ve missed. For more info on FOX+ click here or to start your *free 30 day trial download the FOX+ app. * FOX+ is available in select territories