2018 U.S. Open marked by controversy and chaos


Photo Courtesy of ATP World Tour

Pavan Pandurangi, Staff Writer

The 2018 U.S. Open began just as it had in previous years, with tennis greats like Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams breezing through their opening matches. Along with the sport’s finest athletes came the upcoming generation of tennis players, including Naomi Osaka and Denis Shapovalov. As the tournament progressed, spectators witnessed upset after upset in both the men’s and women’s draws, with the No. 2 seed Roger Federer falling to the No. 55 seed John Millman in the men’s draw, and the top two seeds, Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki both losing to opponents outside the top 30.

Throughout the tournament, players like Roger Federer complained of excessive heat, as temperatures on court surpassed 100 degrees.

“Everything feels off when you’re hot,” Federer said. “It’s just one of those nights where I guess I felt I couldn’t get air.”

After Federer’s upset, many of the top seeds in the men’s draw lost to one another. No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal pulled out of his match against No. 3 seed Juan Martin del Potro after sustaining an injury following a five-hour nailbiter against the ninth seed Dominic Thiem. The resulting draw left Juan Martin playing a back-in-form Novak Djokovic in the final. Novak Djokovic’s hard court dominance in past years proved to be superior to Juan Martin’s potent forehand, as Djokovic utilized his improved court coverage and endurance to outdo his opponent in three sets.

In the women’s draw, the tournament favorite Serena Williams made steady progress, claiming victories over opponents with relative ease. She met a potential roadblock in her round-of-16 match against Kaia Kanepi, but managed to win the match in three grueling sets. Alongside Williams, Naomi Osaka was breezing through her side of the draw, defeating all of her opponents and only dropping a single set. Later in the week, Williams advanced to the championship with Osaka quickly following suit.

Osaka, a first time grand slam finalist, started the match swiftly grabbing an early break that gave her a 3-1 lead over six-time champion Williams. Osaka easily converted the first set to a decisive 6-2 victory. The second game of the second set was defined by an incident that sparked a story of controversies: Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, broke a grand slam regulation after he made a gesture to Williams that the umpire denounced was a violation of the rules, as the act of coaching was deemed illegal during play.

Frustrated, Williams repeatedly proclaimed to the chair umpire that she was not a cheater.

“But I’m telling you, I don’t cheat to win,” Williams said. “I’d rather lose.”

Her frustration continued throughout the rest of the match, as seen by fans when she smashed her racket onto the court. The incident resulted in yet another penalty, this one costing her a point.

Confused, Williams lashed out at the umpire, demanding that he owed her an apology for robbing her of a point.

“I didn’t get coaching. I didn’t get coaching. I didn’t get coaching. You need to make an announcement that I didn’t get coaching,” Williams said. “You owe me an apology.”

After dropping a game and giving Osaka a break later in the set, an enraged Williams took out her anger on the umpire and continued to accuse him of stealing a point from her.

“You stole a point from me,” Williams said. “You’re a thief too.”

After hearing this, the umpire decided to give Williams a game penalty, thus giving Osaka a 5-3 lead. Osaka quickly closed out the set 6-4, earning her first grand slam title. The awards ceremony ended up being just as controversial, as the American crowd booed the sponsors and organizers of the event, Osaka apologized for the turnout of the match, and Williams told her fans to forget about what happened and to stop booing. The drama that ensued after the match was highlighted by a two-sided social media argument: some people said Serena should not have been given the game penalty, while others held Serena at fault for her actions.