Stan Wawrinka produced a magnificent performance to take out Novak Djokovic in the US Open 2016 final, while Angelique Kerber polished off a superb season with victory over Karolina Pliskova in the women's singles' final. Both champions face difficult tasks to repeat their feats in 2017, as wounded lions, Djokovic, Andy Murray, Serena Williams, among others head to New York with the singular aim of reclaiming the US Open title.
Wawrinka again proved his big-match mettle with his nerveless display of big-hitting against Djokovic in the final, as the Serbian repeatedly cut a frustrated figure as winners penetrated his usually unflappable defence.
It was a strange old tournament for Novak Djokovic, the top seed at the time. The Serbian had almost a week’s break between his first round and fourth round, only playing six games in between due to a withdrawal and early retirement. After brushing off the cobwebs in the round of 16 with a dominant straight-sets win over Kyle Edmund, Djokovic then received yet another boon as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired due to injury when trailing by two sets in the quarterfinals, meaning that Djokovic - who came into the tournament with questions over both fitness and energy level - began to look in good shape after reaching the semifinals having played just two completed matches.
Djokovic improved his record against a theatrical Gael Monfils to an impeccable 13-0 when they met in the semifinals, but the Serb had no answers for Wawrinka in the final, as the Swiss recovered from the loss of the first set to bull-doze his way to the title.
For all of Andy Murray's excellence in the second half of 2016, he didn't quite cut it at the US Open. He will look back at the tournament and consider it as a massive opportunity missed.
Murray let a dominant lead against Kei Nishikori slip in the quarterfinals as the Japanese made the most of his distracted opponent, producing some dazzling shot-making down the stretch to set up a semi-final against Stan Wawrinka, which he duly lost.
The 2017 US Open is too close to call between the top guys, and who knows how Juan Martin del Potro will be feeling, perhaps we should not count out the 2009 US Open champion.
Serena Williams might not have gone all the way in the women's singles, but she did pluck some more records on her way to a semi-final loss to Karolina Pliskova. Serena broke Martina Navratilova’s Open Era record for most grand slam wins, surpassed Roger Federer’s overall record of 307 match wins, but she fell just short of breaking Steffi Graf's record of consecutive weeks at the top of the WTA rankings, stopping at an agonizing 186, the same number as Graf. The woman to inflict that heartbreak on Serena was the big-serving Pliskova, who had also defeated Serena's elder sister, Venus earlier in the competition. Pliskova produced a fine display of power and precision to oust Williams 6-2, 7-6(5) and end her 186-week reign as world no. 1.
Pliskova could not quite finish the job in the final, as she fell to Angelique Kerber- the woman who went on to take the number one ranking after the US Open.
About the US Open
The US Open is the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year. Originally founded in 1881, the US Open is the modern version of one of the oldest tennis championships in the world - the US National Championship. It is also the only one of all of the Grand Slam tournaments that has been played every year since its inception. The major traditionally starts on the last Monday in August and lasts for two weeks until the early stages of September, with the middle weekend always coinciding with the Labor Day holiday.
It consequently means players have just over one month from the conclusion of the Wimbledon Championships to attune to the hard court conditions. In preparation the ATP and WTA Tours travel to Masters 1000 and Premier events in Montreal, Toronto and Cincinnati.
In 1984, the US Open introduced Super Saturday, with the women’s final scheduled on Saturday, in between the two men’s semi-finals. Super Saturday has remained ever since, with the men’s final then to be played the next day on the Sunday. However, between 2007 and 2012, the men’s final had to be postponed to the following Monday due to weather. Because of this the USTA intentionally scheduled the men’s final on Monday in 2013 and 2014 but this attracted criticism from the ATP for further deviating from the structure of all of the other three Grand Slams. The final is now rescheduled back on the second Sunday.
Pete Sampras, Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer are the only players in the Open Era to have won the title a record five times, while Federer remains the only active player to have achieved the feat, although Federer’s last title came back in 2008. Federer is also the only player to have won the title five times in a row (2004-2008) in the Open Era, while American Bill Tilden won the title six times in a row in the Amateur Era (1920-1925). On the women’s side, Chris Evert and Serena Williams hold the Open Era record with six titles each. Williams won three in a row between 2012-2014 before her agonising loss in the 2015 semi-finals. Of course Williams was the last American woman to win the title, while the last American men’s champion was Andy Roddick in 2003.
With the biggest stars in tennis all taking to the courts in New York from 28 August - 10 September, 2017, the competition for the 2017 US Open titles is not to be missed!
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