US Open stuns tennis fans with rise of next-gen players

Pavan Pandurangi and Ryan Zheng

The past two weeks at the US Open treated tennis fans all over the world to a stunning show. The annual event in Flushing Meadows did not disappoint, featuring thrilling matches that left spectators on the edges of their seats.

The Men’s Draw

The US Open was headlined by two electrifying singles draws. The men’s draw started with little controversy, aside from a surprising early exit from fourth seed Dominic Thiem. Coming off a record-breaking summer hard-court season, fifth seed Daniil Medvedev was a tournament favorite from the get go; though he faced challenging four-set matches throughout the tournament, he proved he was a next-generation player that veteran players had to look out for. Five-time US Open champion Roger Federer shakily got off the blocks, dropping the first sets in his opening round matches. Federer found his groove later in the tournament, cleanly dismantling fifteenth-seed David Goffin in stunning three-set fashion. Rafael Nadal, the 2019 French Open Champion and second seed coming into the US Open, comfortably eased his way through his draw, beating the likes of John Millman and Chung Hyeon to advance to the second week of the tournament. 

The first blow of the tournament struck when 2019 Wimbledon champion and first seed Novak Djokovic retired in his fourth-round match against 23rd seed Stanislas Wawrinka, a player highly regarded as one of Djokovic’s grand slam rivals. Reports of Djokovic’s left shoulder injury broke out before the tournament had begun, and its effects were visible on the court: Djokovic only won 50% of his second-serve points in his match against Wawrinka due to his lack of pace and spin. Wawrinka was shut down in the following round to Medvedev, who, at this point, was utilizing his dominant swiftness and fluidity on the court to handle his opponents. 

In his quarterfinal match, Federer faced an unseeded Gregor Dimitrov, who is reputed for having a similar playstyle as Federer. In a grueling five-set match, Gregor Dimitrov managed to pull off the upset of his career, eliminating the grand slam record holder from the competition. An in-form Medvedev, however, ended Dimitrov’s tournament run in a short three-set match, qualifying him for his first grand slam final, where he would face the world-renowned clay court specialist Rafael Nadal.

Nadal, who easily converted the first two sets in his favor, was the favorite to win the championship match. However, as the third set began, the crowd started chanting Medvedev’s name, and the match seemed to turn around instantly. Medvedev then swiftly won the following two sets; as the points grew longer and longer, Medvedev began outplaying Nadal more and more frequently. 

Prior to the match, ex-tennis player John McEnroe emphasized the need for Medvedev to shorten points to have even the slightest chance to take down Nadal, who is regarded as a phenomenal baseline player. Not only did Medvedev ignore McEnroe’s words, but in doing so, he was beating Nadal at his own game. Nadal broke Medvedev twice in the fifth set to regain composure at 5-2. Although a time violation cost Nadal his service game and allowed Medvedev to come back into the last set, Nadal clinched it in the final game, saving a break point that would have resulted in Medvedev regaining momentum. The final score of the match was 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4. 


The Women’s Draw

 The women’s side looked similar, featuring a few household greats and also a couple of the next-gen players. The tournament did not start without surprise, as many of the top seeds such as Simona Halep, 2019 Wimbledon Champion, fell to lower-ranked players. These surprises continued as the tournament progressed, but a few women pushed their way through and found themselves deep in the draw. Household names, such as 23-time grand slam winner Serena Williams, first seed Naomi Osaka, and young, up-and-coming Coco Gauff, each completed the first few rounds with ease and landed themselves into the later rounds of the prestigious tournament. 

Osaka and Gauff faced off in a heated quarterfinal, but despite her efforts, the young phenom Gauff lost 6-3, 6-0. After the loss, Gauff praised Osaka. 

“I’m going to learn a lot from this match. She’s been so sweet to me, so thank you for this. Thank you,” Gauff said. 

Along with Gauff and Osaka, Williams also played a tremendous tournament, making it to the finals, only to fall short to 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu. Andreescu, a Canadian player who had never won a grand slam title before, shocked the world. After a grueling two hour match, Andreescu was the one on top, beating the 23-time grand slam winner Williams, 6-3, 7-5. 

This match wrapped up a fantastic year at the US Open. Many top players such as Rafael Nadal and Bianca Andreescu managed to entertain crowds as well as bring out the best of themselves. As the last big tournament of the year has come to a close, tennis fans can now sit back and relax.